Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtueless review

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For the longest time, the Disgaea series was the ultimate gaming manifestation of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Rather than reinventing the wheel with each subsequent entry, every game up until Disgaea 5 would instead marginally build upon the familiar mechanics of the prior game, with some minor new gameplay systems tossed in but a majority of the freshness coming from the unique characters and stories that each entry tackled. Disgaea 6 aimed to shake things up at every level, from the gameplay down to the graphics, but it felt half-baked in so many ways. Thankfully, Disgaea 7 takes the best parts of the last game to a higher level, and reverses the less successful decisions. Disgaea 7 is a rewarding mix of old and new, and the sequel that Disgaea fans have been waiting for.

A lot of Disgaea games take place in Hell-adjascent setting called the Netherworld which is usually a weird amalgamation of various devil-ish ideas – it’s both a broad and specific aesthetic that puts a gothic twist on JRPG tropes. Disgaea 7 brings a way more specific vision of the Netherworld to the table, though, taking place in a version of the Netherworld that is entirely themed around samurai-era Japan – Hinomoto. Protagonist Pirilika is obsessed with the Bushido culture of Hinomoto, and like any other klutzy rich girl on vacation, she’s incredibly excited to be here and incredibly misinformed about what’s really going on in her foreign dreamland. Hinomoto’s culture has long been eradicated, with udon shops are now serving pasta and not a single honourable bushido warrior in sight. After a chance encounter with the sword-wielding demon Fuji, things kick into gear as the duo set out to restore Hinomoto and track down a set of ancient treasures along the way.

While a couple of characters from the last game felt tailor-made for me to enjoy, the full cast and overall setting didn’t stick with me too much. By comparison, Disgaea 7 is instantly iconic. Every character is a hilarious disaster in the best ways, and how their designs fit into the consistent aesthetic of a samurai-themed Netherworld is so endearing. There are a lot of fun layers to unravel in the story, and a bunch of different locales to explore as you do. While some Disgaea players tend to skip the story and focus in on Item grinding, I think it’d be foolish to do that here – the maps and enemy placements in Disgaea 7 are consistently inventive and challenging, and they also do a great job of setting you up with perfect opportunities to use some of the biggest new mechanics in the game.

A few characters in the cast, like Fuji, can fill up a special meter during battles that lets them eventually activate Hell Mode. Once activated, you’ll get bonus XP and access to some super strong additional special skills for a few turns. It’s a really useful tool to turn around a tough battle, but it’s also really rewarding to plan around Hell Mode and use it to take the initiative against tanky opponents.

Disgaea 7 Jumbification

While only some characters can use Hell Mode, every character can use Jumbofication. This is a goofy and super versatile ability that turns character into kaiju-sized giants occupying the open space on any of the four sides of the current battle map. When you are Jumbified, you can use Jumbilities. Naturally. Jumbilities can be useful buffs or staggering damage blasts, but they affect everyone on the battlefield, so it requires a lot of careful planning to use them in the right way. You have so many options to create optimal character builds and busted teams in Disgaea 7 in the traditional sense, but having these new attack mechanics at your disposal is great for getting over sudden difficulty spikes or unexpectedly tough grinds.

Speaking of grinding, there is plenty of it in Disgaea 7. This game probably has my favorite iteration of the Item World yet – levels inside the item dimension are shorter, making the repetition feel a little less cumbersome and a lot more rewarding. Plus, when you’ve finished up with an item, you can just turn it into a whole new item with Item Reincarnation, which gives you new levels to grind through, but also carries over characteristics from the previous item so you can stack buffs and create a super sword or the ultimate pair of slippers. There are dozens of new character types to use in character creation this time around compared to Disgaea 6, with practically every old class returning and four new ones. Unique and generic characters can reincarnate to swap around classes and learn an infinite number of abilities, too.

Disgaea 7 Demonic Staff

Also, performance in Disgaea 7 is absolutely flawless. Sure, I’ve been playing on the PlayStation 5 version, but there hasn’t been a hint of slowdown the entire time. While some people still dislike the swap to 3D graphics that started with Disgaea 6, I think the latest entry also refines things on that front – animations are more fluid, colours are more varied, and the 2D illustrated character portraits are more beautiful than ever. Disgaea has always been about style, and that doesn’t stop here.

There’s so much more to Disgaea 7, and it’s all a blast. The Netherworld Hospital rewards you with random items gacha-style the more you use it, you can visit story locations after beating them for bonus battles and unlockable character colours, and you can even create custom teams with tuned behaviours to send out into online PvP battles. There’s so much here, and it all feels like a complete package rather than a half-finished attempt to reinvent the wheel. I’ve had so much fun with Disgaea 7, and I can honestly see it becoming one of my favorite entries in the series. It’s a fully realised entry in a long-running franchise that manages to be faithful to what made the prior games so memorable, while also fine-tuning some fun new mechanics that take things in a fresh direction.

Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtueless sets a new standard for fun and flashy strategy RPGs. It's such a perfect blend of classic Disgaea feel and quirky new mechanics, and it's got some of the most memorable and entertaining characters the series has seen. This is the sequel that fans have been waiting for.
  • A perfect blend of new mechanics and refined, classic systems
  • So many customisation options
  • Jumbification and Hell Mode are fun, flashy combat tools
  • One of my favorite cast of characters in Disgaea history
  • A slow, slightly overwhelming start
Written by
I'm a writer, voice actor, and 3D artist living la vida loca in New York City. I'm into a pretty wide variety of games, and shows, and films, and music, and comics and anime. Anime and video games are my biggest vice, though, so feel free to talk to me about those. Bury me with my money.