WHAT WE LIKED
º Level design offers a wide diversity of traits and strategy.
º A unique look and style; character artwork is really good.
º The soundtrack is amazing, featuring some awesome tracks.
WHAT WE DISLIKED
º Offline-only multiplayer is too chaotic, and CPU is too tough.
º Campaign is storyless and gets boring pretty quickly.
º There’s not much in terms of replay value.
When I first laid my eyes on it, DiscStorm looked amazing. A battle arena game, where my friends and I can throw deadly frisbees at one another? Sign me up. The rocking music and 90’s visuals made me feel like I was stepping into something great. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t do much to keep you in the door. I found myself yawning, as the game slowly started to reveal how little was actually put into the game’s design.
DiscStorm’s graphics play homage to the 8-bit generation, utilizing pixelated artwork and sprites to tap into your nostalgia. Note to designers; this has become nauseating. DiscStorm isn’t getting any creativity points out of me for using outdated graphics. It almost seems like the developer opted for this style simply because of its convenience, rather than its aesthetics. Sure, its gameplay and layout could be likened to Super Dodge Ball on the NES, but having the 8-bit design adds nothing to the overall experience. It’s a shame too, because their character artwork is fantastic, and had they went with a different approach, the game’s look could’ve been very impressive.
The story just- doesn’t. I mean, it may have been foolish of me to expect a good narrative, but the story is non-existent. You start out in training, where the Ninja Master explains how to play “DiscStorm.” After that, it’s just you randomly going to the next arena, fighting an assortment of monsters, and eventually a boss. It might even be called ‘Mid-stage Boss’ because the developers seem to think Meta is the funniest form of humor. Every character you talk to breaks the fourth wall, and thus the joke gets old very quickly as you progress through the main campaign. Pointing out over and over again that I’m playing a game that did nothing to hide the fact that they did nothing to build the world.
While I didn’t much care for the story, the actual action in the campaign offers some real challenge and strategy. Throwing discs, and having to recover them or catch them out of the air provides some real moments of exciting tosses and lucky saves. Enemies are diverse in their attack styles, providing a real range of pace every time more are dropped into the arena. Taking on other disc wielding enemies provided a real fresh experience, and I had moments that felt like I was fighting for the users. Tron references aside, throwing the discs around is something new, and I really enjoyed it.
For awhile. I think the game’s biggest fault is- it just gets boring. I hate to put it that bluntly, but that’s what it was for me. I had played it for what felt like four hours, only to discover that I had just broken one. There’s really not enough moves, strategy or challenge to make this game worth playing over the long run. Not that there’s really a ‘long run’ anyway; the game can be beaten in two hours. Sure, you can go back and try to get ‘A’s on every level, but I doubt many would submit themselves to this.
Level design is actually really cool as well. The ten stages jump from being a wide open area to having pillars blocking your way, all the way to having portals and hiding holes. Each of them had their own unique style, and their obstacles work well with the theme. The forest has bushes you can tuck away in and regenerating plants as obstacles. The pirate stage is on a ship, with two walls of pirates shifting with the waves, and they might walk over one of your downed discs leaving you handicapped. Each of the ten levels had their own unique style, and I can’t say enough positive things about them.
Despite the fantastic levels, there are a lot of unpolished edges in the gameplay department. Characters will sometimes adopt an aspect of one of the arena’s special traits, regardless if you’re in its designated area or not. For some reason, I started playing a level set in space by aimlessly floating over the platform that I could normally get traction on, leaving me weightless and defenseless. While playing the forest arena, I suddenly became invisible after coming out of a bush that conceals fighters (you can see that in my gameplay footage below). While these things aren’t huge, they did trigger that frustration you play games to avoid.
The biggest selling point for this project and the thing featuring the most flaws is the multiplayer. For one, no online, which is a real shame. I doubt most PC gamers have a dedicated room to accommodate four player with a large enough screen, not to mention four compatible controllers. But let’s say you do- I still don’t think you would have much fun with it. As the game seems to favor a breakneck offense, characters sling out their discs and run around like chickens with their heads cut off. You can barely keep track as you search the tens of frisbees covering the muddled ground for your color disk, as you try to keep track of your adversaries. Why can’t I just use any frisbee? I wasn’t amazing at the game, but it’s incredibly difficult hitting fidgety targets because everyone sprints around like Sonic on crack; that is unless you’ve got the tracking system of the computer. CPU opponents are set to merciless- amazing aim, split-second decision making and most likely the only enemies you’ll ever play. Considering you can’t adjust enemy difficulty, play it online or enjoy the dense gameplay, I can’t recommend buying it for multiplayer any less.
Finally, the music- it’s freaking awesome. Consisting mostly of dubstep, it slows down with more electronica as you get into the levels. Its heavy bass and constant shifts will have you bouncing back and forth as you dodge an onslaught of attacks. Each level has its own theme, and they match perfectly with the environment.
Despite its positives, I don’t think I could recommend this game to really anyone. It’s only passable as a single-player experience, the gameplay isn’t worth mastering and there’s way better games out there if you only play split screen with your friends. Sure, they have some costumes you can unlock, and maybe a hidden level, but it wasn’t enough to keep me around. It’s not a bad effort, and for those of you who think you’ll still find enjoyment in this, you probably will- but don’t expect a long or rewarding experience.
· Publisher – Mastertronic
· Developer – XMPT Games
· Genre – Puzzle Strategy
· Release Date – August 20, 2015
· Version Reviewed – PC
· PEGI Rating – N/A
· Multiplayer – Split-screen