Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny Review (Switch)
Release Date: June 29, 2021
File Size: 6.3
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Click here to view on the Nintendo eShop.
Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny is the latest installment in the longrunning, wacky tactics series, and is something that I have been utterly excited about since the first announcement back in 2020. It has been nearly six years since Disgaea 5 launched, and the long wait has spawned a load of quality-of-life features (among other things). A revamped leveling system, a new max level ceiling to achieve, Super Reincarnation, auto-repeat, auto-battle, 3D models, new game features and maps – and that’s just covering the surface of it all. Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny is promising to be a mammoth of a game when Disgaea 5 was already huge to begin with.
But even with those new features, some things are missing or not as polished as they could have been. Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny is definitely a game that needs some chewing on, and as the Disgaea fangirl of the site, I am ready for the task. Is Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny the game to direct people towards when asking where to start with the series, or is it a stain on the Disgaea franchise? Let’s find out.
Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny starts with the zombie known as Zed, who is on a laser-focused mission to kill the God of Destruction. Having already suffered through hundreds of thousands of defeats, his resolve has not yet been broken. He is traveling with a zombie dog known as Cerberus, who is acting as Zed’s knowledge center, slowly feeding the new characters that appear and player information as the story progresses. Of course, in typical Disgaea fashion, there sure are a cast of characters!
Disgaea has never been known for its narrative/character prowess, and though there are some outliers where fans generally like the characterization of specific characters, most are just one-note cardboard cutouts. Unfortunately, Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny is nothing really new in that regard. While I did find myself liking Zed, Cerberus, and a certain spoiler character, everyone else I could take or leave. Even so, the less exciting cast members still served their purpose and weren’t the worst that the series has had to offer.
Along with the main story, there are also side quests, although they are just as one-note as they have been in the past. Collect the side quest, fulfill the requirements, and get the reward. Along with those, there are also side story quests that you can unlock with the free DLC that comes with Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny. Along with the free Hololive characters (that do not have stories tied to them), you can unlock Asagi (from Makai Wars), Adell (Disgaea 2), Girl Laharl (Disgaea D2), and Rozalin (Disgaea 2). There are also some post-story quests that star past characters.
The main gameplay for Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny is the same as past games. For those unfamiliar with the series, here is a quick rundown: these are grid-based tactical RPGs where you move your units around to attack your enemies. There are different weapon types and while each unit can use any weapon, they all have different proficiencies with each. You can move, attack, use a skill, lift/throw an enemy or unit, use an item, or defend. If any unit is attacked (ally or foe), they have the chance of counter attacking depending on the range/attack type.
Along with the general story mode, the Item World has made its return, where you can go to any of the items that you have in order to level them up and boost their stats. The Item World is randomized, each floor different from the last. And the deeper you progress into the Item World, the tougher enemies will be. But if you would rather just play through the other modes of Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny and let the computer handle the Item World, you can make use of the Item World Research Squad.
New Additions to Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny
First off, the leveling system has been completely redone. In the past, you would gain experience by attacking an opponent. If a unit defeated an enemy, they would get more experience. This made it a bit tedious to level up newly created characters later in past Disgaea games, as you’d need to make sure they could attack without them dying (as dying meant they would not be able to gain more experience). Well, that concern is no more – experience is given at the end of a battle now, whether that unit attacked or not. And if they died, that isn’t a problem either because they still get experience. Of course, if a unit does much better than another, they do gain more. But overall, no units will be trailing far behind with experience or mana.
Next, you have auto-battle and auto-repeat. These function similarly to how many mobile games work. Why spend a few hours grinding with your own fingers when the game can do it for you? With auto-battle, the game will move and attack with your units, prioritizing attacking by default. You can unlock Demon Intelligence early on that will allow you to customize your units’ auto-battle characteristics if you wish to have your units act a certain way. With auto-repeat, if your units are successful at beating a stage, the same stage will be run through again until you manually stop the auto-repeat from running or your units lose. Need to take a shower, but you still need 1,000 more levels until you can face the next God of Destruction? Turn on auto-battle and auto-repeat.
The next new feature is the Juice Bar and D-Merit achievements. Using experience and mana (not to be confused with the experience and mana that your characters earn after battle) as well as different stat extracts, you can either permanently boost a unit’s stats, class proficiency, weapon mastery, or raise a unit’s level or mana. You will also need money to fund these boosts. D-Merits are achievements that can unlock different currencies (like Karma for Super Reincarnation), items, weapon mastery unlocks, EXP increases, and so on.
Finally, the big selling point of Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny – a mechanic constantly mentioned in the story: Super Reincarnation. Reincarnation existed in past Disgaea games as a way to restart a unit to level one, change a generic character’s class, and give a boost to their stats in future levels. The case remains the same now, although stats will also generally carry over. And later on, you will unlock an Evility (a passive skill) that allows Zed to reincarnate during battle, should he be killed.
However, there are some missing features ranging from good to pretty disappointing. Several generic character classes have been removed from the game. Magichange, monster weapons, and Mon-Toss have been removed and monster type characters can now use humanoid weapons and use the general lift/throw that humanoid characters use. Tower skills and weapon skills are gone, the hospital at the base no longer heals you and is just there to give items after a certain amount of HP has been lost/SP has been used/deaths have occurred. There are more examples, but you get the point. For those who dig deep into the nitty gritty of Disgaea and know the game front to back, many of these changes will be obvious and potentially disappointing.
Speaking honestly, the visuals of Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny are the most disappointing part for me. With the switch to 3D, I was expecting it to look rough, but oh boy, is it rough. Even zoomed in all the way in the base or during battle, the models look fuzzy. I have no idea how the game looks on PS4 (especially since the game was only released in Japan on PS4). But as mentioned in my demo impressions months back, this is not the cream of the crop that the Switch has to offer. There are three display modes that you can switch between, although to be honest, I don’t really see a need. Graphics Mode will sharpen the models so that they look a little better, but the performance takes a hit, especially on the larger stages. Performance Mode prioritizes performance, but the graphics take a huge hit, making not just the models, but the entire screen a fuzzy mess. Balanced Mode is right in the middle, and what I found myself playing on for the entirety of my playthrough.
There is also a bit of loading in-between skills being used. While I wanted to see what each skill looked like at first, I just found myself turning off skill animation altogether due to the few seconds of loading that happened before and after each skill played, even when skipping.
Another complaint with the 3D models has to do with how each model is being used during cutscenes. There are times where a couple of characters are moving while others are standing still. And not just standing still, like in an idle position. I mean, completely still. This wasn’t really something that I paid much notice to with previous games but it is much more obvious with the switch to 3D.
The soundtrack and the voice acting once again are top notch and fun, though. Tenpai Sato returns yet again to bring another great soundtrack. It really is amazing how you can listen to a score and it feels right at home – but I suppose that’s the magic of being the main composer to a series. The base world song especially is really relaxing to listen to, almost like sitting in a bar, waiting for the barkeep to serve you a nice drink before you go to fight the God of Destruction.
As for the voice acting, all of the voice cast, both English and Japanese, did a great job. Both sounded great and I found myself listening to both during different parts of my playthrough. But there’s always something about the English voice cast that takes the wackiness of Disgaea to another level. I will say though that the voice mixing did seem a bit off with the cast, particularly with Ivar the Overlord, who sounded much softer than the other characters.
This review has been one of my longest yet, and could have been longer with how much I have to say about this game. I love this series, and there are a lot of changes – good and bad – with Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny. As such, I do find myself a bit conflicted on how I should rate it. While I did really enjoy my time, it didn’t stick with me as much as I would have hoped. Even though it did scratch my Disgaea itch and left me feeling happy, there remains a feeling that something is still missing.
I loved (most) of the cast and the story. The revamped leveling experience alone has made this so fun to go back to, and the soundtrack and voice cast brought a smile to my face. But some of the missing features, particularly the removed classes, did make me sad. Was it due to cutting down redundancy between certain class types? Was it the move to 3D that reduced their budget for additional classes? Who knows.
If you’re like me and can look past mediocre models and performance (honestly, running in Balance Mode is your best bet – it runs fine in handheld), Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny is fun. Even if you’re just playing through the main story plus the post quests and side stories, that’s at least 30 – 40 hours of content. And if you want to try out the other modes and really get in deep, it’s a lot more than that. All I can hope for with Disgaea 7 (unless the sales for 6 are so horrible that any plans of 7 are taken right off the table) is that Nippon Ichi takes the criticism for 6 and really works hard to make a more polished game next timem.