The PC port of Disgaea is an absolute mess


Buggy, unplayable, simply unacceptable

[Update: Since this report went out, it has come to light that some of the problems may be due to issues with the Steam beta client – a problem I have never encountered with any other game. On testing, I found that not using the beta client fixed one problem: I can now turn V-sync on without the game running in slow motion.

While it is nice that this problem has been identified and is now able to be resolved in future game and client updates, it doesn’t excuse the limited options menu, lack of resolution settings, or the massive amount of graphical glitches the ‘enhancements’ cause.

I am still more than comfortable calling the port a mess for those reasons, but at least a fix for V-sync has been found.]

When the PC port of Tales of Symphonia came out a few weeks ago, some people argued that its poor quality was something we had to tolerate. They argued it was okay to get half-baked, unfinished ports because for some strange reason we need to ‘support the developers’ and ‘prove’ that we actually want their games on PC.

When put into practice, this argument translates to eating any old garbage they slop on our plate in the hopes that one day they might give a damn enough to at least pick off the moldy bits.

Well, I hope you’re opening wide and ready for another course because the ‘enhanced’ PC release of Disgaea is riddled with problems.

Rig: Intel i7-4790k 4GHz 4-core processor, 16GB of RAM (2x Corsair Vengeance 8GB DDR3), GTX 980. Windows 10 Pro 64-bit.

Before I can even mention the options available, I have to talk about the awful performance problems I experience. In all areas of the game, I was treated to frequent pauses and freezes that would sometimes run into being multiple seconds long.

The mouse would remain active, but anything on-screen would just stop moving. It didn’t matter if I was in a menu or in a battle, all inputs would just not be picked up probably 25 percent of the time. You can even see this in the options video below, where the menus would stop responding to the cursor.

The options menus are really, really weak. There’re only two small lists of options, and even then navigating through them is a chore because of those responsivity issues. There are no resolution options, instead only the choice between ‘windowed’ and ‘fullscreen,’ and while there are full key and gamepad rebinding options, the menu responsiveness makes it nigh-on impossible to get anything to actually stick.

Disgaea PC is supposed to be an ‘enhanced port’ of 2006’s Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness, which itself was an enhanced port of 2003’s Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. Hilariously, though, the new features that are meant to make it ‘enhanced’ actively make the game worse.The options menu offersdepth of field, screen end blur, character filtering, V-Sync, and SSAO, but all of them screw with the game in different ways.

Enabling V-Sync makes the game run at half speed, while disabling it causes massive screen-tearing. The character filter makes all the sprites blurry messes that are impossible to discern. Depth of field is applied poorly and leaves big rectangles of blurriness around every sprite. SSAO causes huge graphical glitches, leaving flickering black lines plastered over the game. And to add insult to injury, the screen end blur just looks plain ugly.

Everything that makes Disgaea PC enhanced on paper simply serves to make it an annoying, borderline unplayable experience.

‘Fortunately,’ I managed to screw around with both the game and my PC enough to get a somewhat playable experience with less frequent freezing and minimal graphical errors. To do that, all I had to do was disable all my extra monitors, turn off literally every single program except Steam and Disgaea PC, turn off V-Sync and all the extra graphics settings in-game, and then continuously restart it until the splash screens didn’t show the problem anymore.

Or in other words, things I shouldn’t have to be doing with a port of a ten-year-old PSP game.

Disgaea PC is broken, and I’ve seen enough people with similar press builds across both reddit and YouTube reporting the problems I’ve been experiencing to confirm they’re not unique to me. While that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily universal problems — a few people seem to be playing with no issues at all — it does mean you should take extra caution when buying this game.

This sort of port is, quite frankly, unacceptable and insulting. I really hope people don’t buy it just to make sure the other Disgaea games come to PC, because if they’re all in this state then I don’t want them. Disgaea is, in and of itself, a great game with deep tactical combat and enough content in there to last until doomsday. I was excited to see how it worked on PC, but I’m left coming away with a borderline unplayable, buggy mess.

Such a shame, dood…

Rig: Intel i7-4790k 4GHz 4-core processor, 16GB of RAM (2x Corsair Vengeance 8GB DDR3), GTX 980. Tested on both existing and game-ready drivers. Windows 10 Pro 64-bit. Framerate measured with Steam. Game played at the absolute highest settings available at 1920×1080.