Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness is an absolutely impressive Strategy RPG.
The story in Disgaea: Hour of Darkness is easy to understand, and you don't really have to pay much attention to it. Laharl is an arrogant and selfish demon who feels the need to prove to everyone in the underworld that he is the strongest demon, and will be the Overlord. He is accompanied by his loyal vassal Etna, the 'beauty queen', who fights to regain her memories which have been stolen from her. She is best described as the playful tongue-in-cheek character. Laharl is also joined by an angel sent from Celestia, the home of the angels, whose original mission was to assassinate Laharl's father. His character develops throughout the game as he is also joined by a group of demons and a few space defenders.
This is an strategy role playing game, and has all the gameplay features to be a masterpiece. You begin the game as Laharl, and undergo a tutorial, joined by Etna. Here you learn how to throw prinnys, demons that resemble penguins, that once thrown can serve as a grenade- they can explode and deal damage to your enemy, or perhaps an unlucky ally who happened to be in the way. After completing stages you can get prizes depending on how well you did in the battle, and how high you managed to get your bonus gauge. You also have the option to customize your party by creating characters in the Dark Assembly. Some of the professions you can pick from include: Clerics, Mages, Archers, Fighters, Thieves, and Brawlers. Also, after defeating certain enemies you are able to create monsters to add to your party as well. However, in a regular level, if you are feeling kind of lucky, you can lift an enemy and throw it into your blue panel. If your characters inside the blue panel are strong enough, you can capture that enemy...If not, well... I hope the characters that were all ready on the battlefield are strong enough, because you will no longer have access to your blue panel.
Now, as I have all ready mentioned the Dark Assembly, I will go into a little bit more detail. The Dark Assembly also allows you to take tests with all of your characters, including the ones you created, to raise your rank. You can level up by clearing these tests and with your level ups, you may transmigrate into a higher level version of your profession. You can create a few types of characters like good-for-nothing, incompetent, average, distinguished, genius...etc... The higher you go in these evolutions, the better. One of the reasons being: You get more stats per level once you have transmigrated.
One other area that I might want to touch on, is the Item World, a place where you can go to level up weapons, armor, accessories..etc...The purpose of the Item World is to upgrade weapons, grind for levels, and 'Subdue Specialists'.
Specialists are another serious advantage that Disgaea offers. You basically select a weapon, and fight through it to upgrade its level, capture specialists, and defeat the item bosses. This can change the games ending. Item Generals appear on levels 10, 20, 40, 50, 70, and 80. Item Kings appear on levels 30, 60, and 90. Item Gods appear on level 100. Also, the levels of these dungeons are randomly generated and allow you to use geo symbols that can add special effects.
The gameplay is strategy based, as I've mentioned before, and overall it is pretty intuitive. The major annoyance in the game is the unbeatable levels of the item world... Though I say it is unbeatable, I am sure it can be done, just not at my teams current level.
I found this game to be refreshing, original, and fun. I strongly recommend you try it, but that decision rests with you. Note that the endings may vary depending on how you play the game, this can also effect what happens to the characters.