Imagine me, an up-and-coming video game writer, getting the opportunity to cover a game called Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtueless with no prior knowledge of the series whatsoever. I don’t know about you guys, but I think the Fast and Furious franchise has predisposed me to believe that an endless number of sequels is nothing more than a milking machine, with a cow far from its glory days as a, well, cow. Moreover, it isn’t even the seventh entry in the main line of Disgaea games! (You can thank Disgaea D2 for that). And while I’m a fan of the RPG genre – leaning more toward action RPG – I haven’t had the greatest tactical RPG experience of all.
And while many may think this could impair my ability to enjoy the game, I saw it as an opportunity. Many reviews tend to get overly technical and tend to view a game from a major franchise and compare it immediately to what has been shown before. However, taking the game for what is worth is what I try to do whenever I get my hands on a game. And boy did I enjoy this one, and boy was it a surprise that I could not have anticipated. I have the feeling that the Disgaea franchise is now aging like wine, and Disgaea 7 might just as well be a Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon – a premium wine, in other words.
A Very Simple, Yet Lighthearted Tale
Bushido is a set of customs, manners, and behavior, a code of moral conduct from the Edo period connected deeply with the samurai. While you might as well connect it with the modern and Western concepts of chivalry, it is further related to concepts such as martial arts mastery and the concept of honor until death. Aspects of bushido are still applied in modern-day Japan, and it is the main focus of Disgaea 7, featuring a Japanese-like Netherworld called Hinomoto that has forsaken the values of bushido altogether in favor of strict materialism and disregard for tradition.
This is not a revolution in terms of story or setting, but it is extremely well-executed thanks to two main characters: Fuji and Pirilika. The former is a great representation of Hinomoto’s current status, while the latter is the idealistic idea of Hinomoto’s legend as a land of warriors, with bushido as its foundation stone. One is a literal demon, the other is the innocent owner of a multi-billion HL (the game’s currency) company. You could expect them to not care for each other, but their constant interaction was filled with what I could describe as a combination of silly yet perfectly placed jokes – Fuji coughing blood due to him being allergic to empathy, or Pirilika’s total inability to accurately recite popular sayings are two hilarious things – and a great example of extremes coming together to move the story forward.
Can I Play It? (Yes, I Can)
Like I said above, I’m not the biggest expert in tactical role-playing games. To be honest, I did feel overwhelmed initially, but the way the game introduces its many mechanics allowed me to learn them in the time I was naturally able to complete the next level in the story. And while my tactical chops are far from being refined – not even Hell Mode could save me – I did feel the difference from being a button-mashing noob to making 9000+ IQ moves on the fly. I can only thank the developers that all the different modes are not available from the start, otherwise, I would not have spent the necessary attention to all of them or make the best out of every one of their functions.
There is a variety of new additions to the Disgaea formula such as Hell Mode and Jumbification, which are two mechanics that more than breaking the game, add a new depth to a game that already has everything it needs to work. Not going to lie, the first time I enabled Hell Mode I felt the impact of the character’s strikes, making it extremely satisfying to get rid of apparently invincible enemies. Jumbification, on the other hand, feels like a Final Smash of sorts that will punish your enemy – or even they will punish you – with kaiju levels of damage, replacing strategy with raw power. It has its place, and while I still favor the way the game uses strategy to complete the levels in many ways you can imagine, some giant attacks are always welcomed in my book.
Finally, the Item World is a mode that is entertaining and necessary as well. Diving into an alternate reality within our favorite items and weapons to level them up? Call me impressed. While many could feel a bit discouraged by the grindy nature of this mode – and also by the fact that every character can be leveled up to level 9999 – it is the same grind that is part of the franchise, and while it isn’t necessary my cup of tea, I could see many players enjoying this.
A World Built With Passion
Playing the game was almost flawless on my part. The graphics will not fry your PS5 or 4090, but I did feel some stuttering while traveling through Pirilika’s ship, basically the hub world of the game. Moreover, I did find a very weird glitch once I started Episode 1, with the screen reading Episode 15. It’s a very simple thing and, despite the game being available for a considerable time, no patch has been able to fix it. These two things were the only ones that broke my immersion in the game, and honestly, I sin a bit for nitpicking, but that’s how I felt.
However, the game’s art, character design, character animations, and sound design – including the voice acting which has grown to me with time – make Disgaea 7 a treat for both the eye and the ear. Although, I might say that the little in-game melodies looping to eternity could feel a bit annoying. However, my mind being engaged with the tactical aspects of each turn made me not feel that way quite as often as I might’ve expected.
The variety of different character classes that you can recruit was astonishing and very well crafted to the point that it serves the very nature of the game perfectly – that is, being able to walk your way to victory in any way possible. Combine that with the many different level designs and mechanics and you will have fun for hours and hours to come.
Overall, Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtueless is a great game in itself and an outstanding entry to the franchise. While some of its new features can make your experience a bit saturated and a couple of stability issues could take you out of the experience, I believe we have found the perfect Disgaea game for people who haven’t touched the franchise whatsoever. Why? Well, that is my case, and I feel like I can potentially start to play more Disgaea games as well as strategic games in general. And believe me, I know how reluctant I am to change my gaming habits, and for me to say that is a big statement.
If you get the chance, don’t doubt that you will have a good time with Disgaea 7. Well, as long as you are not allergic to empathy of course.
This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game's publisher,public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.
- This article was updated on October 13th, 2023