Had a small conversation with a friend about the Disgaea series. The latest game in the series came out two weeks ago(in Europe) and I've been putting some time into it. I really like the series, and as our conversation went on, we started talking about the total ammount of time we've spent playing the various games in the series. While my friends playtime dwarfed mine, I still could calculate almost 1000 hours spent on all the games I own in the series. 1000 hours is a rough estimate, it comes from my recollection of the various save-files I own, so it's not a perfect number, but as a rough estimate, it serves.
So, it stands tor reason that being a person who has spent that much time on a game, I should be able to produce at least the smallest amount of words about it. But alas, I come with bad news. Since I will probably NOT cover the Disgaea-series in any meaningful sense. I've been wanting to write a post about JRPGs, and my "complicated" relationship with them, but I'll have to let that one stew for just a little bit more.
So, failing to write anything meaningful about Disgaea, what can I write? Well, it's pretty fun. Pretty fun meaning: I've spent roughly 42 days playing games in this series.
OK, so for reals this time. Disgaea tickles the same spot 4X-games does for me. A want and a need to build effective systems. In a 4X-game, I will almost always strive to create highly functional (but not very pretty) empires, and in Disgaea I strive to create really bad-ass killing machines of various flavors and colors. At it's core, it's a numbers game. You make numbers go up, so you can deal larger numbers in damage and kill units with even larger numbers. To many, that probably sounds really boring, but to me it's wonderful. I guess I was an accountant in a past life or something.
So, over to something I can talk a little bit about.
I picked up the current(October 2015) Humble Jumbo Bundle. One of the main reasons for doing this, was Blackguards 2. I played the first game back when it came out in January of 2014. It was a deeply flawed game, but I liked it. The games are based upon the German pen-and-paper RPG-system called Das Schwarze Auge(The dark eye). From what I understand, by playing the game, the system seems to be a slightly more open variety of Dungeons & Dragons. When I say "open", what I'm truly saying is "class-less". For example, in Blackguards, you don't create a class, you pick the talents and skills you want and create the character you want. For a person who's biggest influence in RPG-system is DnD, it feels slightly alien. Not truly un-recognizable, but alien enough to make one pay extra attention.
What makes Blackguards 2 interesting isn't the system, tough. It's what they do with it. See, the game-designers have taken an RPG-system, slapped it onto a turn-based-tactical game and THEN asked themselves: "What can we do with this?" The result is a fair share of unconventional objectives and uses. An early mission in Blackguards 2 has you being chased through a labyrinth by an ever increasing number of enemy mooks. You're supposed to get to the exit before the enemies surround and take you out. To help out, you can place some traps and affect the environment in various ways. Ways like starting fires and turning over barrels to block of paths. This entire mission feels clunky and unwieldy, but it is still quite interesting. A lot of the missions in the first Blackguards had you fighting against the odds, and the game went from "How can I kill all these guys?" to "How can I even the odds enough to survive?".
For all its faults and warts, I cannot help but applaud the spirit of Deadalic Entertainment. Where they lack the pure skill required to make a stellar game, their willingness to experiment with their systems and engine makes up for it.