Disgaea sets itself apart as a turn-based role-playing video game series by allowing a maximum level of 9999, the standard is usually 99, and complex gameplay mechanics.
The endearing chibi-style visuals have also improved over the years as the successive sequels were released.
The series proved to be so popular that it spawned a light novel series, manga and anime.
While there have been many spin-offs, we will only be reviewing the main line titles on our quest to discover the best Disgaea game to date.
5. Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten
|Release Date||24 February 2011|
|Platforms||PS3, PS Vita, PS Vita, Switch, PC|
Originally released on the PS3, Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten is a marked departure from the series school-based setting and becomes one of political intrigue instead.
We follow the exploits of former tyrant and vampire, Valvatorez, as he seeks to overthrow the Corrupternment, as the government is known in the game.
Fans of the series finally got their visual upgrade with beautifully crafted sprites and background environments. Base-building also had an impact on the gameplay with the added option to build your own pirate ship.
The story, while not the best in the series, paralleled the 2008 American election, which was quite clever at the time.
While a few gamers like to keep their favorite pastime separate from political ideology, this aspect of the game may have gone unappreciated by some.
There were also gripes about the visual upgrade arriving so late, when fans expected it in the previous title, especially considering how it was released on a more powerful console.
4. Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories
|Release Date||23 February 2006|
|Platforms||PS2, PSP, PC, Mac, Linux|
After Zenon, a powerful Overlord appears in Veldime and curses the human population turning them all into demons, Adell sets out on a journey to restore his family and the rest of the inhabitants to their human form.
As our young hero unaffected by the curse, sets out on his journey, he is joined by colorful companions along the way.
The gameplay received a definitive upgrade, as previous issues in the previous games were addressed and made for a better-balanced gaming experience with some great level design.
There is a sufficient number of side quests available for those wishing to acquire those special items and a new area is unlocked with every successive chapter.
The Item World game mode makes a return where players can enter the items in their inventory in order to unlock special bonuses.
The game is marred by a lackluster story and the characters are not as memorable as one would expect. Cut scenes are expected in this kind of game, but the developers annoyingly left out the option to skip them.
Released on a new console, fans expected updated graphics, but were sorely disappointed, some even citing that it looked worse than the previous incarnation.
3. Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice
|Release Date||31 January 2008|
|Platforms||PS3, PS Vita|
Upon having his gaming systems destroyed by his father who is an Overlord and ruler of the Netherworld, Mao decides on a whim to overthrow him and become the next ruler.
After reading one of his favorite manga volumes, he hits upon the idea of becoming a hero, as this is perceived to be the quickest way for him to achieve revenge against his father.
The story is praised for flipping the school-based genre on its head, where the delinquents turn out to be the good guys and the diligent students turn out to be the bad guys.
The progression of Almaz, a hero fanboy from Earth is wonderful to behold and while he gradually descends into becoming a demon it certainly adds for an endearing story element.
Geo blocks make for a refreshing change in the gameplay mechanic and the inclusion of magichange is a Disgaea staple that forms the core of later games.
Again, fans were disappointed by the graphics, as it was the first appearance on the PS3, a console renowned for its graphics processing power.
While the story is considered one of the best, the character of Mao was considered annoying by some and fans would gladly have chosen to play as one of the other students of Evil Academy.
2. Disgaea: Hour of Darkness
|Release Date||30 January 2003|
|Platforms||PS2, PSP, PS4, Nintendo DS, PC, Switch, iOS, Android|
With the king of the Netherworld dead and demons vying for supremacy, Laharl awakens from his two-year slumber to claim his birthright.
Disgaea: Hour of Darkness brought a refreshing change of pace to the tactical role-playing genre and would go on to win the hearts of a legion of followers.
Considered the best story in the series showing off the best cast of characters, the game has aged well despite it being the first in the series.
The world-building elements compliment the core gameplay elements with the Geo Symbol gaming mechanic enhancing the strategic elements of battle. The ability to capture enemies and turn them into allies also added another layer of depth.
The first introduction of the Item World, while innovative, was not well received as it caused countless restarts when players got stuck in certain sections of the game.
The throwing mechanic, while improved in later versions, can also be considered to be somewhat buggy and not as smooth as one would expect.
That being said, as the first entry that defined a generation, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness is well worth the time invested.
1: Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance
|Release Date||25 March 2015|
|Platforms||PS24, Switch, PC|
While we await the release of the next installment of Disgaea, Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance is our top pick for the best Disgaea game.
The story takes a much darker turn than earlier games and we play the role of a demon called Killia who has to defeat the evil emperor Void Dark and his army The Lost as they go about destroying numerous Netherworlds.
The first game to make it onto the Nintendo Switch and a boon for owners of the console. Introducing a slew of new characters and gameplay options, the game upped the ante for the series.
A notable improvement is the ability to reposition characters without the need to undo their previous placement. Graphically the game is a gem and the voice acting does well not to distract from the main gameplay element.
The story does seem a bit rehashed and the lead characters share striking similarities with the first game’s protagonists.
Little can be said to fault Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance as it had been such a long wait for fans of the series.
The game takes what made the original great and introduces the Netherworld to a new audience, easily making this our favorite and the best Disgaea game on this list.