Long-time Disgaea fans are likely cozily burrowed in their dens after being provided with enough strategy RPG gameplay to get them through the winter, but those new to the series looking to get into it after its debut on the PS4 may find it overwhelming. Overwhelming in the best possible way, of course, but still pretty daunting. While the story is long enough to enamour those that don't fancy any extra exploration in their gameplay, but in Disgaea, to stick to the story is to miss out on half the game. There is a lot to do, and that is part of its charm. With a few easy tips, anyone can grasp the chaos that is Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance.

disgaea 5

Try Before You Buy

This tip actually has a double meaning. If you are unsure of buying Disgaea 5, give the demo a try. It's free and players can spend their time unlocking classes and trying them out. The best part is all the demo progress carries over when you actually buy the game.  Alternatively, once you get into the game don't stick to one class or character because you are fond of them. There are literally hundreds of different classes (and characters!), each have their own unique abilities to experiment with.

Stack and Throw

The throwing mechanic is one of the most unique features to combat in the Disgaea series and things will go easier if you aren't afraid to use it. Players can either stack characters to gain better attack bonuses or throw the top character for a powerful ranged attack as well as to get them to new areas. Throwing prinnies will also make them explode like amazing grenades, too.

It is also worth noting that the wrestler class can perform multiple throws if they stand still as well as throwing further than others.

Tower Power

This is essentially the same tip as above, but it is too important of a tip to let it be glossed over. Bring all ten characters out into the field and stack them all in a tower 10-characters high. Players can move and attack with all these characters stacked. This tower attack not only does devastating damage, but it causes the bonus gauge to fill ridiculously quickly (the fastest way I've found). It is a good way to get those one-time bonus items; however, best use your most outrageously HP-strong characters as your bottom and top.

Don't Forget the Dark Assembly

It is easy to overlook the Dark Assembly for those new to Disgaea, but the feature has its advantages. Players choose a character to address the assembly, selecting from several useful bills that offer bonuses like resetting the character of your choice, changing their color scheme, acquiring a sub-class, getting upgrades for the vendors and much more. After the bill is presented, the assembly will vote yea or nay with majority winning. Of course, you can sway their votes by bribing them like a filthy lobbist or challenging them to a combat like a gentleman.

disgaea 5 gameplay

Don't Waste Heals, but Still Go All Out

On a tough battle, heals are literally the difference between life and death, but unlike other games, they are not often needed. If you are assured of an easy win, stop healing. Let characters get hurt and let a few die (like Prinnies, dood.) You get rewards for HP and SP healed at the hospital as well as revives. Disgaea has always very much been a "go out there, fight hard and lose a few crucial organs" sort of game where players are expected to have to heal at the hospital between each fight.

Grind, Grind like the Grindstone

The Disgaea series has always been one of the more grindy games to come west, and much to the delight of its long-time fans, that has not changed. Don't be afraid to grind out a few levels before moving on with the story. In fact, it is better to do so. Disgaea 5 is not very subtle with its difficulty spikes, they happen dramatically like some jerk ripping off a Band-Aid and slapping you when you cry.

Once Item World is unlocked in Chapter 3, grinding becomes less of a conscious thing. That area has a way of just sucking up time in a very worthwhile way. Also, the new Chara World lets players upgrade each character's basic attributes in a mini-game that's a short and sweet distraction from turn-based combat.

Do Side Quests

Side quests - do not shirk them. Players can have as many as ten side quests active at a time that task players with mundane things like killing certain types of enemies or upgrading a ability to a certain level. They may seem kind of pointless, but they are good for earning extra money. Also, side quests are the only way to unlock certain character classes. With more than twenty side quests available at a time, they are sure to drive completionists crazy.

disgaea 5 squads

Assemble Squads

The formation of squads is a new feature to Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance, but a useful one. Each character can be placed into one squad, and each squad features a useful advantage for its squad members. Some benefits are better than other, but it is up to personal and situational preference. For example, the Item Adventure squad lets items in the Item World level up faster, which is a pretty good benefit, but the Skill Training squad improves attributes, something that is easier (and faster) done in the Chara World.

Fun fact: You can also upgrade squads by forcing your prisoners to join them at the Squad Shop. However, it requires a Capture Squad to take prisoners first.

Keep Extra Characters Around

This likely won't be any trouble, especially for those who buy all the DLC, but keep at least twenty characters around in the old character rooster. You can only field ten (although I've heard that you can do more with certain items and/or Assembly bills), but the extra characters can be useful too. These extras can be sent out to different areas to explore for useful items or new levels to play on. While they are out raiding, they are not available for combat, so it's best to keep quite a few characters on hand.

Don't Sweat the Money

Early in, you will be so desperate for money; you may want to do unspeakable things for it. However, just hold out, do side quests and progress through the story. The rate that players earn money later in the game ridiculous, so it will become a non-issue in time.

disgaea 5 plan ahead

Plan Ahead

After enough grinding, you may be able to piss on your enemies and have them melt into a puddle, but Disgaea is still a strategy RPG. Sometimes tactics are still needed, as well as forward thought. For example, Overload skills can only be used once per battle, so plan carefully on were to use it.

Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance - PlayStation 4
Amazon Price: $59.99 $59.49 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 7, 2015)
Need something to get you through the chilly October games freeze out until the magical month of pre-holiday November comes? Disgaea is not a bad choice. So many games are not worth the $60 price tag these days, but there is so much stuff to do in Disgaea games, Disgaea 5 included, a truly grind-y individual will be with it for half a year, at least.

I only complaint I can easily make about Disgaea 5 is that gnawing, J-Pop soundtrack that wants to be all cool like Persona 3, but fails. Thankfully, the music can be muted.