One of the statements you’ll hear a lot these days is that PC gaming is dead. It’s driven a lot of crowdfunding projects, that’s for sure. The actual truth behind this statement is a little less clear, though; we’re seeing a slew of new PC games released on a regular basis, both originals and ports of bygone console classics. Well, at least some are classics.
Today we’re looking at the first Steam release from just such a classic console series: Disgaea PC. So has PC gaming gone to the Netherworld? Let’s find out!
When King Krichevskoy suddenly passes away, it leaves the denizens of the demon-infested Netherworld without a leader. The heir aparent is his son Prince Laharl, but not everyone is convinced he’s up to the job – particularly because he just woke up from a two-year nap! With the help of his loyal (?) vassal Etna, the bumbling angel Flonne and plenty of other memorable characters, Laharl will have to take down every demon in his path as he works his way back to the throne.
This is a pretty straightforward port of a port – in this case we’ve got a PC port of 2007’s Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness for PC, itself a port of 2003’s Disgaea: Hour of Darkness for PS2. This first game is essentially where all the number-grinding madness of Nippon Ichi games started for those of us here in the US; Japanese gamers were probably inducted via La Pucelle, a similar game that features a lot of the same concepts.
Those concepts, if you aren’t familiar with the series, are focused on getting numbers to go very, very high. This is a fairly standard strategy-RPG at first glance; take turns, move around on tiles, attack without leaving yourself too open. What’s different here is in how Disgaea deals with gaining power. Most RPGs cap your level, of course, and you’ll often stop gaining experience at level 99. Some will stop you at 100. Even fewer might stop you at some odd number like 255. Disgaea, though, will happily let you keep on leveling until you’ve hit 9999…and then it’ll just as happily let you restart the same character at level 1, then do it all again for even higher pinnacles of power.
This was a little insane back in the day and it can still be overwhelming for new players. Disgaea 1 is still a pretty solid introduction tot he series, but old hands will probably find themselves missing the new features introduced in later games like the astoundingly good Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance. You can’t throw diagonally in this one, for instance, without relying on what is essentially an exploit, and gamers with less time are going to miss the Cheat Shop. This speaks more to how well the Disgaea series has evolved over the years than any sort of indictment, though. Either way, there’s loads of content here just as you’d expect from any game in this series; expect to dump in over 60 hours if you’re trying to find everything.
The PC version doesn’t add much to shake up the original game. Everything you’ve come to expect from Afternoon of Darkness is present here. There are a few other bonuses as well, like mouse control, gamepad support and an array of PC-specific graphical options with varying degrees of usability. By default the game significantly filters the character sprites, which I think looks pretty decent but most probably won’t care for. There’s also an option to apply Depth of Field and blurring effects, which I found to look like crap and rapidly disabled. Generally it’s not hard to get this one to look and play as you’d like.
As for the performance of the port, it’s…interesting. Reports tend to vary on how well this game is going to run. Personally, I had no performance issues whatsoever on an Nvidia GTX 980ti, which is exactly what I’d expect given the weight class of that card. Others have reported framerate issues and crashes, but I never encountered any of these during my time with the game. Presumably there are some odd hardware incompatibilities at work here.
Steam, of course, boasts a generous refund system that makes it easy to test the game and see if it works as expected on your setup. I’d suggest taking advantage of this if you decide to pick up the game and find it isn’t what you’d hoped for.
It’s nice to finally see this series finally make its way to non-consoles with Disgaea PC. It would be nice to see further Disgaea installments end up on Steam as well, but as it stands this is a solid port of the first game that works as expected…well, for some people more than others, apparently. If nothing else, fans can finally unplug the PlayStation 2 and pick up a digital copy via Steam – you’ve got a way out and nothing to lose!