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NIS takes us to an island paradise, battles us, then travels back in time



12:45 PM on 06.16.2014

A new series mingles with sequels at NIS' E3 preview

NIS was a bit of a hidden treasure at E3.

The publisher shared a booth with Atlus and it took me stopping and actually looking at what was on display at the demo station to put two and two together. The search was well worth it because I was rewarded with a closer look at three upcoming titles: Danganronpa 2: Goodbye DespairDisgaea 4: A Promise Revisited, and Natural Doctrine.

Out of the titles I saw, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair intrigued me the most. This time around, you find yourself stranded on a tropical island during a field trip arranged by your rabbit teacher, Monomi. For series veterans, there will be some returning characters from the original game. A big part of the core experience -- the emphasis on relationships and the ability to give gifts --also remains. And of course, Monokuma appears again, being his creepy self. 

But there are also plenty of new additions to Danganronpa 2 that keep it feeling fresh. One cool aspect was the "Dive Logic" minigame that takes place during the "court" portions of the game. During the minigame, you move through a tunnel on a holographic skateboard (the whole thing reminded me of Rez) with each branch of the path representing a piece of evidence.

It sounds like an interesting idea and is certainly pretty to look at. I mean, I love the typical art style of the game but the small break you get from Dive Logic feels just right. In New Game Plus, you can play as Monomi and uncover more of the story's secrets. It sounded like one of those titles that you need to play through at least three times to get the best idea of what the heck was going on. And from the looks of things, I am totally okay with that.

Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair comes to PlayStation Vita on September 2, 2014.

Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited returns us again to the world and the story of Disgaea 4. This is no mere port of the PS3 title, however. By taking on the role of Nagi Clockwork, you gain the ability to travel back and forth through Disgaea 4's storyline via her "Time Leap" ability.

We'll get to see the characters at different points of their lives that we were previously not privy to, both before and after the events of the original game. It sounds like a great way to expand on the game and honestly, I think some of the characters could use an extra bit of fleshing out.

All the time-sink elements that fans know and obsess over are still there, like the Cheat Shop (You want the max level to be 9999? Sure, why not?) and the Item World. Plus, all of the PS3 version's DLC is included. There is even a new spell-tier, Peta. Before you ask, there is indeed a spell called Peta-fire. Get your chuckles out now.

Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited releases in August 2014 for the PlayStation Vita.

From what I saw of Natural Doctrine,  it looks like character death will be a regular in-game occurrence. I was also told that the player will "enjoy" dying. Oh, and if one character dies in a battle, it is game over.

But here's the thing: It actually looks pretty forgiving in terms of re-strategizing. For example, you can redistribute skill points that have been used on the skill tree. Let's say on a previous (failed) attempt, you placed your points a certain way that clearly wasn't working. All you have to do is remove them and arrange them as you see fit.

Natural Doctrine plays like X-Com meets Dark Souls. The turn-based battles take place on a grid across a medieval era-like backdrop. You'll have the option to link your characters' actions so they occur in immediate succession. The downside is that doing so enables your enemies to act twice in a row afterwards. It will be interesting to see how this feature plays into gamers' strategies.

The online multiplayer will have cross-platform and cross-save features across all three systems: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Vita.

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