Disgaea 5 and a Love For Numbers

Disgaea is such a weird series. I’ll never be able to explain Disgaea 5 better than this video (8:51) so I’m just going to leave this here and then continue to ramble about my experience with the game.

When I bought my Switch last year, I picked up a copy of Disgaea 5 because I felt like the Switch was a perfect console for a game like this. But at some point around half way through the story I stopped playing and pushed it to the side. It wasn’t because I didn’t like it, but it was more so that I forgot about it and told myself “I’ll finish this eventually” (and I also got Breath of the Wild which meant that pretty much everything I was playing was put on hold).

Recently I’ve started having a string of panic attacks again. I’m still not entirely sure why that drove me back to Disgaea as strongly as it did, but I think it’s actually quite a good and relaxing game for moments like that.

Disgaea is an infinite grind. The game even tell you that when you unlock the item world – a series of randomized maps that you can use to level up any item in the game – so it’s not even trying to hide the fact that a whole lot of grinding is involved. And I usually hate wasting time grinding and farming. It’s a pain and just not fun.

But here, I don’t really mind the grinding and I’ve been trying to figure out why that is. I think it boils down to several things. I definitely think that playing it on Switch has been 1000% better than trying to play Disgaea 4 on PS3. I can take it, sit back, and mindlessly go at it – it serves as a pretty good distraction while not being too overwhelming, so it’s a pretty good grounding method for when the anxiety kicks in. But obviously, you can also play it quite actively. If you so wish, you can bump up the levels and difficulty in the cheat shop (using the cheat shop is heavily encouraged by the game as well) and make it as overwhelming as possible. Or you can, you know, actually play the game “normally” and have a nice strategy JRPG to play.

Disgaea 5 is full of different dials to play with. The review video describes it as a game of numbers and you use the all dials in the game to play with and increase numbers. Item world, chara world, skill shop, evilities, subclasses, reincarnation, shards, and so much more. One of my coworkers described Disgaea as “man there’s just so much game in that game”.

I personally love numbers. I’m really bad at and really hate dealing with finances or doing math (says the girl who took 6 math classes in college), but numbers are really fun to look at. Last.fm, survey data, personal spreadsheets, I love those kinds of things.

The numbers in Disgaea are really insane though. The max level for any given character is 9,999 with a cap of 99,999,999 in each stat. And that’s just character stats.

For reference, this is my team from right after finishing the story.

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As an aside about the story – it’s really bad. It’s significantly worse than Disgaea 4’s story. And from what I can gather, it seems like it’s the fan-least-favorite. I love bad shounen anime tropes, especially the super powered evil side trope, and even lost my patience with it and stopped caring. It just feels like the characters are too serious for a goofy and wacky series like Disgaea and there’s far too many friendship speeches in the last few chapters.

Now I’m in the post game. I’ve looked at a whole lot of guides and forum posts on where to go from here, but right now it feels really overwhelming. I think I’m going to play around with some of the other DLC characters and start slowly building my way to the Land of Carnage content, but I’ve been binging it for several weeks now and have neglected all my other games, so maybe it’s time to take a break and let my boyfriend use the switch for the first time in like…maybe over a month.

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