Disgaea is like an old oak: its sturdy trunk and roots persist even as its leaves change color, fall off, and sprout anew. Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance doesn’t take any risks with the series’ bread and butter turn-based tactical combat – I’m still having a blast tossing explosive penguins and grinding late into the night to create the most perfectly customized cast of demonic misfits I can manage. It’s those new metaphorical leaves that give each new Disgaea its unique flavor though, and Disgaea 5’s many new branches succeed in keeping the formula fresh, even if they don’t all improve on the systems they’re replacing.
If you haven’t played a Disgaea game in a while, don’t worry: it’s still the addictive time sink of an RPG it’s always been. As ever, you can tweak your many party members and their gear in an overwhelming number of ways, and pretty much all those ways involve a time and/or resource investment. Just when I’d thought I was happy with where a given character was, I’d decide to re-roll them in order to boost their leveling progress (called reincarnating), level some new gear, and slap some new passive abilities on them to squeeze out just a few extra drops of power. This what I’ve always loved most about Disgaea – there’s practically no limit to what you can do if you have the patience and conceptual understanding to do it.