Disgaea 4 Complete+ PC Review: My Kingdom for a Sardine
Disgaea 4 Complete+ brought the vampire lord Valvatorez's Netherworld uprising to consoles in 2019 with a slew of modern upgrades. Now it’s available on Steam, Windows 10, and Game Pass for PC, bringing the same package stuffed with content to a broader audience.
While there aren’t many differences between the console and PC versions — it’s more of the same Disgaea at the end of the day — Disgaea 4 Complete+ is one of the best entries in the series. Add the value of Game Pass to it, and you’ve got a must-have tactical RPG.
Disgaea 4 Complete+ PC Review: My Kingdom for a Sardine
Serious games abound, and spending time with the delusional Valvatorez on his way to take over the Netherworld is a refreshing change of pace.
Disgaea 4 starts in the Netherworld, like always. But this time, you’re in the lowest section of all: Hades. Part Nether prison with wardens watching the inmates' (mostly Prinnies) every move, part training school for newly acclimated Prinnies, this is where the protagonist Valvatorez finds himself.
Valvatorez (voiced by Troy Baker) used to be a mighty tyrant, a vampire feared by all for his malice and cruelty. Now he teaches Prinnies how to say “dood” as chief Prinny Instructor, and he gave up blood in favor of sardines.
He’s happy about it, or at least he tells himself he is, prompting his pseudo-loyal servant Fenrich to take matters into his own werewolf hands.
Things quickly take a turn for the worse as the Netherworld’s Corrupternment Prinny-naps Valvatorez’s charges and sets the tamed vampire on a quest to fulfill his promise to grant them a snack of sardines while running for government at the same time.
There’s more to the story than that, including some unexpectedly poignant commentary about how people treat each other. But it’s the gist of Disgaea 4 and sets the stage for what to expect as Valvatorez’s story unfolds.
While the dramatic points from the opening video make an appearance, Disgaea 4 is more concerned with being lighthearted and increasingly zany, with one of the stronger casts in the series.
Serious games abound, and spending time with the delusional Valvatorez on his way to take over the Netherworld is a refreshing change of pace. It helps that Disgaea 4 does a better job than its numerical neighbors in terms of humor. There’s more of it here than in Disgaea 5, and it doesn’t try to be too satirical like Disgaea 3.
Most of your time is spent on the battlefield, though. If you’ve played any Disgaea game, you’ll know the basics of how this works and how fast you fall can down the rabbit hole.
If you’re ready to level up further, you can reincarnate your party members, rerolling for better skills while resetting their level to 1 to balance the challenge.
Teams of up to 10 characters take the field and face enemies. The battlefield in Disgaea is more of a puzzle. Unit placement holds more significance than in most tactics games thanks to team attacks and damage combo bonuses, and foes take advantage of the same features without hesitation.
Geo panels add another level of strategy to the mix. These blocks affect segments of the battlefield matching their color — offering a defense bonus or extra experience, for example. Destroying them might lose the benefit for your team, but it boosts the bonus gauge and means better rewards at the end of a mission.
It’s par for the course for Disgaea, but D4’s map design seems more challenging from the start, which pushes you to make better use of the game’s many supporting systems.
These all revolve around the Cam-Pain headquarters. Aside from the usual shops and such, there’s the Item World, a series of random stages suitable for level grinding and boosting equipment power. You can also spend mana points earned in battle to augment character abilities, learn new skills, or pressure the Senate into giving you what you want.
Disgaea 4 adds even more to the usual formula by tweaking Disgaea 3’s classroom system. Valvatorez conquers new land areas on the map as the game progresses. You can choose which party members to manage each territory to create a network of positive effects in battle and divide them into “Evil Symbols” to access even more stat and Evility (ability) bonuses.
The last big difference between D4 and others in the series is the Pirate Editor. Once you’ve encountered pirates in the Item World, you can create your own pirate ship using parts earned through defeating pirates or found as Treasure. Then you can plunder the Item World for higher-level gear and Innocents (the things that live inside your items). The better your ship, the better quality gear you’ll find.
You can also invade other players’ games with your pirate ship, though online features aren’t live at the time of writing.
Even better is that Disgaea 4 Complete+ includes the additional plot scenarios that were once DLC-only.
That’s just one of the many improvements packed in under the “Complete+” part of the title. It boasts enhanced resolutions, tweaks that make the battle system easier to work with, and features from Disgaea 5 like the Cheat Shop, autosave, and more options for bribing senators.
Unlike Disgaea 5 Complete, the range of DLC included in this package is a bit smaller. Extra bonuses like item packs and HL rewards are still available but as paid DLC. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s also not 100% complete in that regard.
Disgaea 4 Complete+ is more for the fan who hasn’t played the series in a while or started with the complete version of the original.
There’s so much else to do outside the main story, you could easily spend dozens of hours not even touching the main campaign. Or you could completely ignore the other features, keep up with gear, grind a bit, and still enjoy the game. That flexibility is one of the things that makes Disgaea unique, and Disgaea 4 Complete+’s additions only make it better.
As for PC version differences, D4 Complete comes with a few extra whistles. There are a few graphics options, though it’s not the kind of game that needs them. You can adjust the resolution and rebind the keys if you aren’t playing with a controller, and keyboard or mouse controls work just as well as a traditional controller.
If you’ve recently played Disgaea 5, all this might not be enough to warrant a Disgaea 4 Complete+ playthrough. The extra content and quality of life changes are welcome. But at its core, D4 Complete is more Disgaea. The tweaks and improvements bring it up to par with D5, and even though there’s more variety in activities and more challenging maps, it’s easy to get burned out with the series.
Disgaea 4 Complete+ is more for the fan who hasn’t played the series in a while or started with the complete version of the original. It’s a big step forward from that one in gameplay variety.
That said, if you’re a Game Pass subscriber, D4 Complete+ is a no-brainer: at least 40 hours of top-notch strategy gaming at no extra cost.
Disgaea 4 Complete+ PC Review — The Bottom Line
- Heaps of deep strategy gameplay
- Strongest (and quirkiest) cast in the series
- So many systems to get lost in
- All the extras and improvements from previous Disgaea 4 releases
- Ultimately more of the same Disgaea formula
- Not 100% complete since some smaller add-ons still need to be purchased
Disgaea 4 Complete+ is one of the stronger entries in the series, with its outlandish cast and relevant, if loose, story. Plus, the Complete package includes so many extra positive tweaks, making Disgaea 4 the most up-to-date and accessible it's ever been.
It might be the same Disgaea at its core, but criticizing its "more of the same" approach is problematic when that approach works so well, to begin with, dood.
[Note: NIS America provided the copy of Disgaea 4 Complete+ for PC used for this review.]