Spencer's Day

Total Pageviews

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Minecraft Story Mode Season 2: Hero in Residence Review!

Ah, Minecraft Story Mode. The narrative driven spin-off series to Minecraft, which is the second most successful video game system ever made (right behind Tetris). I have written reviews for episodes 1-7 of the first seasons and while I still agree with them, my writing style has changed dramatically since then. And it's not like I can revisit the older episodes and redo the way I wrote the reviews, because my copy of the first game actually died on me (as in, the game broke and no longer works). I am still a little salty over that, but I decided to give the surprise sequel, Minecraft Story Mode Season 2 a chance to redeem this franchise for the technical blunder that rendered me unable to play the final episode of the original.

Image result for minecraft story mode season 2

For those of you who have never heard of Minecraft or it's Story Mode miniseries, Minecraft is not only a open-world sandbox game, it was THE open-world sandbox game. While the genre did exist before Minecraft was released by Swedish developer Mojang in 2009, this game almost singlehandedly popularized the genre, being a massive hit with children and adults alike, thanks to a fun, but simple combat system, randomly generated terrain, towns and dungeons that made sure that no two adventures would be the same, and of course, the ability to build almost anything you can possibly imagine, like a bunny rabbit riding a turtle that, in turn, is riding a dinosaur, or the world's most technologically advanced mansion. Minecraft was such a huge success that there's tons of merchandise literally everywhere. It was even so famous that several other games drew inspiration from Minecraft's characteristics. And then in 2015, Telltale Games, who are most well-known for making the Walking Dead video games and Wolf Among Us, decided to make a seemingly impossible spin-off for the block-busting (geddit?) titan; A narrative driven point-and-click adventure where your moral choices will permanently change the course of the story set in the same universe as the original Minecraft. The spin-off, titled Minecraft Story Mode, was surprisingly well-made, with likable, but somewhat cliche characters and providing plenty of in-jokes that only people who play Minecraft extensively will understand (raise your hand if you know what a Mob Grinder is). It also stands out for being Telltale Games's first ever family friendly video game, as all their other games are rated M for Mature.

Image result for minecraft story mode season 2

Minecraft Story Mode Season 2 is a direct sequel to the original game, but has the same business model, drip-feeding the audience several "episodes" which serve as several full games in their own right, each being 3-4 hours long a piece and being charged for no more than $5. They normally stop after five episodes, but some of Telltale's other games (including the original Story Mode) can have as many as eight episodes (it depends on how successful episodes 1-5 were in terms of financial gain and audience popularity to determine if the game gets extra episodes) . Did I mention that Telltale uses this payment method for literally every game they make? Anyway, the cool thing about Season 2 is that you do not need to play the first game to understand the second game's story, as they provide a quick, one-minute-thirty-something-seconds long recap of the first game. But if that recap isn't enough, the gist is that you play as either a male or female hero named Jesse (you get to decide Jesse's gender at the beginning of both this game and the original) who used to be an average teenager living in a tree house with his/her friends Axel, Olivia, Petra, and Lukas (who are all based off of various player archetypes for Minecraft proper) and a pig named Reuben and after a run-in with an alchemist named Ivor who has become embittered by a combination of lack of respect and his own childhood friends telling a bold faced lie to become famous, Jess and his/her friends are sent on a massive adventure to save the world when Ivor's plan to earn his long overdue respect backfires horribly. That's literally the entire plot of episodes 1-4, while episodes 5-8 are self-contained one off stories where Jesse, Petra, Lukas, and a newly reformed Ivor explore several alternate dimensions, each with their own rules and gimmicks (a world with floating islands, a world with a murderous computer, and a world that is literally a blockier, less violent version of The Hunger Games are the highlights of these one-off adventures).

Image result for minecraft story mode season 2 episode 1

Anyway, this is a review of Episode 1 of Season 2, titled Hero in Residence. The basic premise of the episode is after what is implied to be a few years since Jesse and friend's latest adventure, they all have settled down and almost the entire cast are now running the various towns and cities that somehow miraculously survived the various catastrophes that have befallen the Story Mode universe.

Image result for minecraft story mode season 2 episode 1
Jesse and Friends' new home, Beacontown, is
filled to the brim with with beautifully built but
horrifically mismatched structures, as one can see
here.

This creates an interesting dynamic, because Petra the Warrior (the only one of the main five main characters that hasn't settled down) has a strained relationship with the rest of the cast. Because they are now the only form of government shown in the series, their political responsibilities means they don't have time to go adventuring with Petra, causing her to feel neglected. Meanwhile, Petra refuses to accept the fact that the world is changing whether she likes it or not, and the result is a very irritated and saddeningly lonely swordmaster/thrill seeker. This right here is arguably the greatest form of character development in the series (one could make the argument that Ivor's transition from bitter and vengeful anti-villain to childishly eccentric mad scientist is better though), which is doubly impressive given that Petra is supposed to represent the kind of Minecraft player who prefers to fight enemies/other players in open combat (a PvPer, as I like to call it).

Image result for minecraft story mode season 2 screenshots

Of course, seeing as how a point-and-click adventure needs an adventure to go adventuring on, the call to adventure rears it's head once more (that might be the most redundant thing I have ever written), when Jesse and Friends uncover an ancient cursed gauntlet and a vortex of death and destruction which Petra nicknames the "Heck Mouth", which after a quick detour to a neighboring city whose leader has conned one of Jesse's closest friends, spirals into Jesse's first ever underwater mission to a watery Temple of Doom and coming face to face with this season's main villain, the Admin, which without giving away spoilers, can be best described as a literal God in Minecraft form. The story is straightforward but engaging thanks to the surprisingly compelling cast, and has much better pacing than I was expecting. I mean, the first season had four whole episodes devoted to what in retrospect is nothing more than a prologue because of a terrible, drawn-out pacing. This episode has the team already making massive amounts of progress within minutes and that is including the detour.

Image result for minecraft story mode season 2 episode 1
From left to right: Olivia, Axel, Lukas, Male!Jesse,
and brand new character Radar.

Sadly, neither Axel or Olivia receive character development of the scale Petra got from the transition from Season 1 to Season 2, which is unfortunately a side-effect of the fact that they are the least popular of the five main heroes (because most people find their flaws annoying/off-putting) and as such neither of them showed up at all during the one-off adventures except right at the very end of the final episode, because the entire reason the one-off adventures exist is to give the four most popular characters in the game (Petra, Lukas, Ivor, and Jesse) a chance to be in the spotlight. I personally don't mind Axel or Olivia's flaws, in fact I wished they had more screen time and (hopefully) some more character development, because quite frankly, these two characters have so much potential to be fun and memorable, but are being heavily underused. Lukas, on the other hand, is by far the most popular character in the Story Mode series, and for good reason. He's a well-mannered teen (which in itself should be impossible lol) who gains an absurd amount of character development in the span of three episodes, and despite having the least amount of screen time out of the five main characters, he has grown and matured the most, going from likable, but easily frightened kid who spent his time competing in building contests, to a lovable author who not only became a master sharpshot, but also managed to turn Jesse and Friends's exploits into a very popular novel series, that I honestly wish existed in real life because I would totally read that. The brand new character Radar is... curious to say the least. He serves as Jesse's intern/secretary, since Jesse is so busy thanks to his/her political responsibilities s/he has to hire an intern to keep his/her schedule straight. Radar acts basically how you would imagine an intern working for a hero who, at this time, has accomplished dozens of heroic feats like saving the world from a vengeful alchemist's monster, solving a murder mystery, battling a supercomputer, and teaching an entire civilization how to survive in the wilderness would act. In other words, he's a total fanboy who starts hyperventilating the moment Jesse and Friends talk to him. I have no idea how important Radar is to the overall story, and I honestly can't wait to see what becomes of Radar in the future. Also I just now learned that Radar is voiced by Yuri Lowenthal, one of my all time favorite voice actors ever.

Image result for minecraft story mode season 2 episode 1

As for Jesse's character development, it really depends on how you play the game. Minecraft Story Mode is a game franchise where you can literally choose what kind of personality Jesse has thanks to the literal thousands of branching dialogue choices. These choices will make Jesse act like either a pompous jerk, an all-loving goody two shoes who believes very strongly in the Power of Friendship, or my personal favorite option, a well-meaning, but very sarcastic sassball. Or you can mix and match these choices to make your version of Jesse unique. My only real gripe with Jesse as a character is that there are way too many times where if you look at the dialogue options, you pick the one that sounds like the desired personality on paper, but Jesse's actual delivery makes it have a completely different meaning. The most grating example of this is early on in the episode, Jesse arrives late for a mining expedition with Petra who is understandably annoyed because of the whole "neglected and lonely thrill seeker" thing, and Jesse has to explain why s/he was late. One of the options reads "The people needed me". Sounds nice and humble on paper, but when you click on it, Jesse says with a cocky grin on his/her face; "What can I say, my public adores me!". And I hate moments like those, and believe me there are plenty of moments like this one, because it breaks the immersion and if you're trying to pick only choices that match a specific personality, it makes playing playing through the episode somewhat of a headache. And while there were poorly worded choices in the first season, most infamously the *"Save the Machine vs Save the Piggy" choice from the very first episode, but those moments were few and far between, hence the Machine vs Piggy choice's infamy. But here, there are more poorly worded choices in this one episode than there were in the entire first season. That's how bad it is.

Image result for minecraft story mode season 2 episode 1


But seeing as how this is a brand new adventure, there are of course new friends and foes, most prominent of which is the dynamic duo Jack and Nurm, a seasoned treasure hunter suffering from what is implied to be PTSD thanks to a sea adventure gone wrong, and a hyper-intelligent map-maker who can only speak in a strange foreign language that only Jack understands, respectively At first, I figured they would be minor characters at best, because I play all my games almost completely blind with as little knowledge going in as possible and as such never noticed how prominent Jack and Nurm are in Season 2's marketing. But no, they become major players shortly after Jesse meets them. They both are likable, and Jack's reputation as a legend versus the broken, half-blind man that bears an uncanny resemblance to Chuck Norris creates a rather compelling character. He tries hard to live up to his reputation as a fearless adventurer and frequently reminisces and boasts about his previous adventures (which sound like something straight out of Lord of the Rings), but his fears and guilt over that disastrous expedition constantly hold him back. During my first playthrough, I thought this dynamic was because he was a fraud who was all bark and no bite, but after a couple more playthroughs (and remembering that if Jack really was a fraud, it would literally be repeating a certain plot twist from Season 1 and I know better than to expect Telltale to use the same plot twist twice) I realized that Jack is 100% legit, and in fact, Jack's depth to his character is one of the best things about this episode. Nurm isn't that compelling simply because he exists to serve as the Chewbacca to Jack's Han Solo, and the only info we can really understand concerning Nurm is that he's a hyper-intelligent map-maker who can decipher dead languages, but his dialogue is in a fictional language that captions refuse to translate, resulting in a running joke where Nurm says something but only Jack understands what Nurm said.

Image result for minecraft story mode season 2 stella

Season 2 also introduces Stella, a minor antagonist that fills mostly the same role that Aiden filled back in Season 1. That is, a minor villain that Jesse and Friends consider an annoyance at worst, but if my hunch is correct, she will wind up becoming one of Jesse's deadliest foes yet (because the exact same thing happened to Aiden). Stella, however, is a much more interesting version of Aiden. Initially acting like a genuinely nice person, Stella's good natured mannerisms are just a facade to hide her insatiable greed, and has swindled many an adventurer into handing over their most valuable belongings to her, and manipulates the victims of her cons into working for her until they pay off the debt they owe her, only to swindle them again and again, and eventually her pawns are trapped in an endless cycle of swindles until Stella's pawns have literally nothing of value to their name. Something else that's rather interesting is that she seems to have (an admittedly comical take on) Joker Syndrome for Jesse, declaring herself to be Jesse's rival, despite the fact they have never met prior to this episode, and insisting that they are bound together by destiny.

Image result for minecraft story mode season 2 screenshots

And that covers everything concerning the story. I know, that was a lot to talk about, but I had to get that out there to properly explain why I like Season 2. Now for the gameplay! Minecraft Story Mode Season 2 uses basically the same style the first game did, dividing the game into three sections. First and most common, interactive cinematics where you can pick the aforementioned dialogue choices, classic point-and-click exploration sections where you can examine objects, craft items to help you later, and solve puzzles, and a simplistic combat system where Jesse has to use his/her sword and his/her wits to battle enemies. Between these sections are quick-time events and I know some people hate how extensively this franchise uses Quick-Time Events due to how easy they are (as long as you press the button displayed on screen you will be perfectly fine), but I personally like them, for this franchise in particular. It's very difficult to convey a sense of urgency or action in a point-and-click adventure game, but Quick Time Events do a decent job instilling some much needed action. However, if they put Quick Time Events in say, Horizon: Zero Dawn, then that would be annoying. The Combat system also got revamped with the addition of a Stamina Gauge making combat slightly more challenging as well as being a nice way to integrate the combat revamp from Minecraft proper (the one that added a cooldown timer to melee attacks). But the weakest part of Season 2 is that as far as challenge goes, it's really easy, and I understand that it's a family friendly story driven game, which means it has to be easy enough to make sure young children can complete the game without any problem, but it still would be nice to have a decent challenge.

Image result for minecraft story mode season 2 episode 1

As far as visuals go, Minecraft Story Mode has the trademark blocky aesthetic that made Minecraft proper so beloved. The locations all look nice, from the mind bogglingly asymmetric Beacontown to the futuristic Champion City to the Indiana Jones-esque Sea Temple. The character designs are also nice to look at. The quality of the animation is also much better this time around, though whether that's because of a jump in quality on the developer's part or because I played this game on my PS4, which is much more powerful than the PS3 I used when playing Season 1, is up for debate. The sound is also nice, as it has cleaner versions of the music and sound effects from Minecraft proper in addition to some new songs. And finally, the Voice Acting. Well they got an all-star cast for a reason. The voice acting is really good, even if the dialogue gets campy at times, but the actors do a great job with the material they have to work with. They have most of the previous actors/actresses return to reprise their original roles, such as Patton Oswalt as Male!Jesse,  Ashley Johnson as Petra, and Mathew Porter as Lukas. Also, YURI LOWENTHAL AS RADAR!!! The only real thing that strikes me as odd is that Olivia's voice actress sounds completely different, but it's not as grating as it could have been due to Oliva being underused and having hardly any screen time in this episode.

Image result for minecraft story mode season 2 episode 1

Overall, I honestly enjoyed this one episode more than most of the entire first season. My only real gripes are with the poorly worded dialogue choices. I give Minecraft Story Mode Season 2: Hero in Residence a 9/10. I think that's actually higher than the ratings I normally give this franchise lol.

*- For those not in-the-know, the choice I am referring to is a early choice in Minecraft Story Mode: Order of Stone, the original episode that started it all. Basically, after someone sabotages a building contest, Reuben the pig runs off in terror into a forest while at the same time, that saboteur sets Jesse's build on fire, you are given two choices that clearly read; "Save the Machine" or "Save Reuben". Many people, myself included, thought it meant choosing what to make Jesse do. Nope! What the choices really meant was "Tell Jesse's friends to stay and save the Machine" or "Send Jesse's friends to save Reuben". Jesse leaves to save Reuben regardless of which choice you make. Because of this, many players were infuriated at this, because now that they know the true meaning and consequences of this choice, it's obvious the better choice is "Save the Machine" as Jesse will save Reuben anyway and making this choice will let you win the building contest.

EDIT: Almost forgot to mention a tiny thing, but when you make a choice that impacts the story in a major way, you will get a message in the top-left corner reading "Your Story is Changing". It's nice to know when you have impacted the story in major way and not have to wait until after you beat the episode to know which choices will have a lasting impact on the adventure.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance review!

"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold on a moment! Disgaea 5? What happened to Disgaea 1-4?" Well I never played any of the Disgaea games before the fifth one. I wished I played Disgaea 1-4 because as it turns out, Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance is actually a really good game. Especially if you get the Nintendo Switch port, Disgaea 5 Complete, which has everything in the original PS4 version of the game plus all of the DLC (which consist of overpowered characters and optional bonus levels) pre-downloaded free of charge.

Image result for disgaea 5

But what exactly is the Disgaea series? The Disgaea franchise (pronounced "dis-GUY-uh) is a series of turn based strategy games created and developed by Nippon Ichi Software famous for three things; Wacky and over-the-top animations, clever/witty writing with a VERY tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, and taking literally hundreds of hundreds of hours to complete. In other words, my kind of franchise! Lore wise, the only information you need going into a Disgaea game is that they take place primarily in an alternate universe existing parallel to the human world known as the Netherworlds, populated by demons, dragons, vampires, werewolves, ogres, bunny rabbits, fairies, cat-people, wrestlers and a bunch of adorable penguin like monsters called Prinnies.

Image result for disgaea 5

Oh, and the entire franchise exists as an affectionate parody of basically everything. But anyway,  Disgaea 5 is notably more serious in tone when compared to the previous games (hence the admittedly edgy sounding subtitle, Alliance of Vengeance)... But not by much. There is still plenty of comedy in this game, such as the main heroes spending an entire chapter chasing after a stolen bowl of curry, or the running gag of every chapter ending in an Episode Preview cutscene that has no plot relevance whatsoever and exists as a spoof of some kind of popular media.

Image result for disgaea 5

The story follows a group of demons who form what can best be described as a mythical version of the Rebel Alliance (from Star Wars) to go to war with and defeat an omnicidal maniac known as Demon Emperor Void Dark (try saying THAT five times fast!). And before you ask why the game has Alliance of Vengeance as it's subtitle, the reason for that is because the six main rebels all have a personal grudge against Void Dark and are basically using the war as the perfect excuse to get revenge. Although most of their reasonings for their grudges against Void Dark are at best incredibly petty, and at worst make the rebels seem like a group of selfish extremists (thankfully the game is fully aware of this and there are several jokes pointing this out), the lone exception being the male lead, Killia (pictured above and on the far left), whose desire for vengeance is actually pretty understandable given his backstory. Which is filled to the brim with spoilers, hence why I'm not explaining his origin story outright.

Image result for disgaea 5 complete

Now if you read other folks' reviews for this game, you'll notice that just about everyone complains that the story is the weakest part of the game. And while I do agree that it's very cliche, it's likable characters and the trademark Disgaea comedy keeps the main story campaign from getting boring. But it still has SEVERAL cliches and unless you've been living under a rock you probably have seen all of them. Is the male lead a dark and brooding pretty boy with a mysterious past? Yes. Is there a evil spell/curse broken by the power of love/friendship? Yes. Does the main villain want to destroy everything and everyone for seemingly no reason? Yes. Is the female lead a spoiled, arrogant princess who immediately develops romantic feelings towards the aforementioned brooding pretty boy literally seconds after meeting him, and frequently pretends her feelings for the male lead are strictly platonic? Definitely yes. But the thing about the Disgaea games is that nobody plays them for the story, as their main selling point is the comedy and complex gameplay. On a positive note for the story, I appreciate how chapters 8-14 give the six main rebels important character development which leads to them not only overcoming their flaws, but also branching out of their overused archetypes and becoming more believable as characters. Example, Red Magnus goes from cocky musclehead getting himself and his friends in trouble, to calm gentle giant that acts as a cool big brother figure to the other five main rebels (or at least he tries). Or how Zeroken goes from a coward who's all bark and no bite (geddit? Because he's a werewolf!) to brave and heroic kung fu master.

Image result for disgaea 5 screenshots

Although, when I say that the main cast is likable, it really depends on you what you consider good qualities for a main cast in a video game. Some people will love these guys, others will hate them. Apparently, not matter how much you like Disgaea 5's main cast, everyone pretty much agrees that the best characters in the franchise are the dynamic duo from the original game, Laharl and Etna (pictured above), although some folks do make the argument that Valvatorez (the main hero of Disgaea 4) is better than Laharl and Etna, but they have nostalgia on their side and as such have more fans.

Image result for disgaea 5 screenshots

But enough about the story, what about the gameplay? The majority of your play time is spent engaging in mind bogglingly complex turn-based tactical combat (that I have to explain in order to give a proper review). Basically every stage is a chess-board like grid, and you move your characters (who I will refer to as "unit") on said grid . When a unit gets close enough, they can attack an enemy with a variety of special moves that they learn from using the same weapon type repeatedly. Said special moves will also level up as you use them, and if you use them enough, you'll unlock a stronger special move for that weapon type. For example, use the Sword exclusive special move Blade Rush enough times and you'll unlock another Sword exclusive special move known as Killer Spin, and if you use THAT enough times you will unlock Excavation, and so on. Additionally, some weapons are off limits for some characters due to how the cast is divided between Humanoid and Monster units, with Monster units having less weapons to choose from, but get exclusive skills that only they can use to compensate, and possess the ability to Magichange, where the monster temporarily transforms into a weapon that a humanoid unit can use, thus boosting the stats of both units, and any EXP earned by a Magichanged Monster is shared with the Humanoid they Magichanged with.The only downside of  Magichanging is if the Humanoid dies, it takes the Magichanged Monster with it. Also, both Humanoids and Monsters can literally pick up and throw teammates around the board/grid, a tactic best used to position your offensive powerhouses just right for a sweet combo. And finally, the main thing that separates Disgaea 5 from the previous games is the addition of the Revenge Gauge, which can be used to essentially put your units in a temporary Super Saiyan Mode that gives them a massive stat boost, but the catch is one of your own units has to take damage for it to charge the Revenge Gauge.

Image result for disgaea 5 classes

Oh, and if you don't like the main cast, you can always use a team of the highly customizable Generic units, which are mainstays of the Disgaea franchise. Generic Units are customizable characters with no story relevance whatsoever divided into 47 different classes (each with their unique gimmicks and quirks), and an argument can be made that the Generic Units' versatility makes them actually better than the story relevant characters, who are essentially locked into specific combat roles, but to compensate for their sometimes crippling over-specialization, the main characters  have access to Overloads, which serve as both plot devices and chargeable super moves that can be used once per battle to give you a tactical advantage (example, the female lead, Seraphina, has an Overload that lets her mind-control any male enemy within a specific radius, and Red Magnus's Overload turns him into a giant, boosting all of his his stats for a few turns), the catch being Overloads can only be used while the Revenge Gauge is completely full. And in addition to all this, every character in the game has at least one passive ability that can do anything from boosting stats to inflicting a debuff on an enemy if they get within a specific radius of the unit in question. It's a staggeringly deep system that literally begs you to experiment until you find a style that works for you. And while it is complex, it's presented to you at a very digestible pace. Never once during the 145+ hour story mode did I feel overwhelmed by the game mechanics due to them becoming available to you gradually and giving you plenty of time to understand how each mechanic works on your own (and even more time to Google it in case you couldn't figure it out yourself).

Image result for disgaea 5

All of the above summarizes the game's combat system, but it has so much more content than just that. You can capture/interrogate prisoners, pass bills at the Dark Assembly (which is literally a demonic court), complete side missions, literally go DIRECTLY INSIDE every single item you have collected thus far (including but not limited to plastic lightsabers, chocolate bars, and Dandy Gowns),  to gather up EXP, Money, or whatever it is you need at the moment en masse, and literally unlock a Cheat Shop, because Disgaea is the only franchise besides the LEGO games that still uses cheat codes to this day. Granted, the cheats in Disgaea 5 don't require codes, but still let you customize the game mechanics even further by determining how much of one (or more) resource(s) you get when completing stages, or adjust the difficulty to your heart's content. But the biggest reason why Disgaea 5 takes a lot of time investment to make real progress? Every character, be they Humanoid, Monster, Generic or a part of the Main Cast, can level up all the way to Level Nine Thousand Nine Hundred Ninety Nine (9999!) and all of their stats can EASILY surpass ten million (10,000,000+!). And then you can reincarnate them, which sets them back to level 1 (out of 9999!) but let them keep any stats and skills they've acquired and now their stats can get EVEN HIGHER. Thankfully, once you reach that almost needlessly high level cap, it's much easier to reach it a second, third, forth, fifth or even sixth time. Also, as far as I am aware, you can only Reincarnate a character a specific number of times. And all this is just the tip of the iceberg! So if you like video games with a ludicrous amount of content, then Disgaea 5 might just be the most content filled game in history.

Image result for disgaea 5

As for the visuals, Disgaea 5 adopts a colorful, Saturday Morning Cartoon (but like, if Saturday Morning Cartoons had swears, and innuendoes because all Teen rated video games must have swears and innuendoes)/Shonen Anime artstyle that while a tad simple, is easy on the eyes and generally pleasing to see. The character designs also aren't bad either. The main characters all look distinct, and despite the fact that they are called "Generic" units, the Generic unit designs are also nice to look at as well, chief among them being the Dark Knight and the Dragon King units. The attack animations can best be described as completely over-the-top, and they only increase in scale and grandeur as you progress through the story, eventually getting to the point where your units are casually blowing up entire planets just to defeat one pesky zombie.

Image result for disgaea 5

As far as the sound goes, I can safely say that Disgaea is the only game where the regular battle theme (titled Bloody Brass Band) is fun to listen to. The Main theme, while energetic and has some great instrumentals, has an opera-woman-wail that overshadows the lead singer during the chorus and I personally feel the main theme would have been better if the wailing was reduced, or even absent, but that's just my opinion and music is an incredibly subjective topic. But aside from that the music is fun, often taking jazzy instruments and somehow making fast, upbeat songs out of them, with the occasional lyrical J-pop track, or some surprisingly epic guitar solos. The only song I don't like is the Item World theme, as it's ridiculously techno, which is a genre that I don't even like to begin with, and extremely repetitive, so whenever I use the Item World I make a habit of turning the background music off because listening to the Item World theme for too long is murder on my eardrums. The Voice acting is also alright. I mean, there's no stand out performances aside from the absolutely ham-tastic Red Magnus and the strangely adorable Usalia. Killia's voice acting did not really impress me that much. I mean, yeah, he's supposed to be a brooding pretty boy lone wolf but it's kind of sad when the hilarious out-of-character Episode Previews at the end of each chapter make him show more emotion than the real Killia even after he goes through his character development. And while I know a LOT of people hate Seraphina's voice in the English dub (which is what I played the game on), I think we can all agree that Seraphina's "Oh-hohohohoho!" laugh is the most wonderful sound in the history of voice acting (not the history of video games, that honor goes to the "Da, na-na-na-naaaa!" jingle from The Legend of Zelda franchise).

Image result for disgaea 5

Overall, if you like long, complex strategy games and don't mind a somewhat cliche story, then Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance (also known as Disgaea 5 Complete for the Nintendo Switch) is the game for you. I give the game a solid 9/10. My only real gripes are extremely subjective in nature and may not apply to you. And it makes a good starting point for the Disgaea franchise, given the fact that this game is completely stand-alone from the rest of the franchise aside from the heroes of the previous Disgaea games making fun little cameos during the the optional bonus levels that either come with the Switch port or are sold as DLC for the original PS4 version, and also how beginner friendly the game is.