There are many reasons for why a game can be a disappointment. Disgaea 5's sins are especially egregious not because it's a horrible game, but because of basic things so badly bungled that even a fantastic story and great new features can't hold the game together. One of the most important elements of Disgaea, and most other strategy RPGs as well, is good level design. Battles need to be carefully constructed so that players carefully consider terrain, enemy position, enemy types, etc. Sadly these are rarely factors in Disgaea 5. Battle designs are bland and forgettable, and some of the best elements of the series like throwing and stacking allies and powerful geo-panel effects take a back seat. The game seemingly tries to make up for this by giving the levels in each chapter different environmental effects, but only in a few chapters are these even a factor.
The worst part of it all is that Disgaea 5 brings a number of cool features and enhancements to the series. There are new classes for players to use, better control of item enhancements via the item world, a more focused and well paced story, and even more conversations in important battles to help increase their impact. These are all wasted on the poor level design, balance issues, and a long main campaign that only serves to exacerbate these issues. The prinnies deserve a far better game than this.
Nippon Ichi brought something special to the roguelike sub-genre of RPGs with the wonderfully original Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger VS. Dark Death Evilman. Its spiritual successor, The Guided Fate Paradox, provided some of the most unique and engaging dungeons players will ever see in a roguelike, in addition to an entertaining anime-inspired story. This certainly left the direct follow-up, The Awakened Fate Ultimatum, with some big shoes to fill. While it certainly isn't surprising that The Awakened Fate Ultimatum couldn't match the brazen originality of its predecessors, what is surprising is how utterly plain and uninteresting it is. A generic, overly-easy roguelike is all players will find here, attached to a story that didn't hold our interest. Even Nippon Ichi's typical high-quality sprite-work is absent from this game, instead replaced by uninspired 3D models. The Awakened Fate Ultimatum is, simply put, utterly disappointing.
Some of us on staff would suggest that Xenoblade Chronicles X is an excellent game, perhaps a contender for Game of the Year. With due respect to our peers, most of us see Xenoblade Chronicles X as more than a letdown; it's a sizable disappointment. The little moments which made its predecessor special are noticeably absent. As a replacement, the player is presented with a menagerie of design decisions that make the experience as a whole feel less genuine. The way this game looks and plays may be excellent, but everything in between leaves a bad taste in our mouths.
by Mike Apps, Trent Seely