Disgaea 1 Complete is a fun strategy game if you put the time and effort into it.
I’ve developed a love of strategy role playing games over the years, first dating back to Fire Emblem on the Game Boy Advance. For whatever reason, I never picked up a Disgaea game—it might be because the first title was released for the PlayStation 2, a system that I never owned. Now that it’s out on the Switch, Disgaea 1 Complete is a fun, but daunting challenge for any strategy RPG enthusiast.
The first Disgaea game casts you as Laharl, a demon who has awoken from his slumber after two years to find out his father has passed away. Alongside his vessel Etna and other assorted characters he meets along the way, his goal is to reclaim his throne as king of the Netherworld. The story is fine, but I like the character interactions more than the actual story as there’s good chemistry there. Disgaea doesn’t seem to take itself seriously, and it works; the game is full of humor and charm.
On the surface, it would seem that Disgaea 1 is a fairly simple game. Just like in any strategy RPG, you send out an assorted number of warriors, mages, demons and other character classes with the goal of completing a stage in order to move to the next area. One thing that stands out is the color gems in each stage. The gems control panels on the game’s map that can aid or harm not only the people in your party but also your enemies. Getting rid of these can cause big chain reactions that drive up bonus points that go towards EXP, money, items and weapons.
Disgaea is chock full of mechanics and systems that take time to really be good at. Beyond the color gems, there’s also learning about the Dark Assembly, earning money, mastering your characters, visiting the Item World (which is probably the best place to level up), finding the right weapons for each character and class and so on. It can take a long time to become really comfortable with all of the different mechanics. It’s a harrowing experience, but as time went on I felt a bit more comfortable.
In case you were wondering, yes, Disgaea is a total grindfest. I’ve spent countless hours leveling up my characters only to see them get wiped out after clearing only a few stages. It’s easy to visit a previous stage to level up characters and earn more money, but I felt disheartened by how much I had to repeatedly do this. The chances of failing in Disgaea are very high, so always be ready to spend time grinding so the next stage can be just a little bit easier.
I very much enjoyed Disgaea 1 Complete, but I don’t feel it’s for everybody. On the surface, there’s a great strategy game full of interesting and unique takes on the genre. But it’s also grind-heavy, with a learning curve that can be extremely daunting. If you have a lot of time to spare, this is easily one of the better strategy RPGs released on the Switch thus far.