Developer: XMPT Games
Platform: PC [Reviewed], PS Vita
Release Date: August 20th, 2015 [PC], Summer 2015 [Vita]
Have you ever dreamed of throwing discs at people? How about zombies, animals, and robots? Perhaps your dream is more focused around deflecting discs back at those that threw them to begin with. If this sounds like you, DiscStorm may be the game you’ve been looking for. If this doesn’t sound like you, well, keep reading anyways.
DiscStorm is a game that utilizes fast-paced, disc-based, arena combat. The way the game plays is fairly simple. Your primary means of attack is throwing a disc. You start off every match holding three discs, and if you throw them all, the only way to get more is to pick up your discs from where they landed.
When throwing discs, you either throw in the direction you’re facing, or you can aim using the right stick, assuming you’re using a gamepad as the game suggests. If you choose to use a mouse and keyboard combination, you aim your throws using the mouse and throw with left click, which can be more accurate, and depending on your skill, faster.
Other than that, you can grab your discs in mid-flight with a well-timed button press, and you can also deflect enemies and their discs using a spin attack. However, you can only do this while holding onto a disc. Without a disc, you get a convenient dash move that leaves you invincible for a few moments, although that means you also have no way to attack until you pick up at least one disc again.
In DiscStorm, you have two modes. There’s single player and multiplayer. Single player is made up of ten stages: the tutorial stage, and nine combat stages. The combat stages are all broken up into six parts: enemy wave 1, mini boss, enemy wave 2, mini boss 2, enemy wave 3, and the final boss. Each combat stage also takes place in its own arena with its own obstacles, challenges, and quirks. Every arena feels fresh and new, and new enemies are slowly introduced to mix up the regular playing experience, many of which only appear in particular arenas.
There is a good variety of enemies and bosses that makes single player feel like a very strategic experience at times. It still feels fast, but for the most part, it doesn’t feel as hectic as multiplayer except for a small handful of moments. It is a more technical experience that most players will want to take part in so that they can increase their skill. There isn’t any real story in the game, but you can pick one of five characters to play as and read their witty exchanges with the bosses and mini bosses of each arena.
Multiplayer, on the other hand, feels fast, hectic, and exactly like what the developers described the game as from the beginning. At the time that I was writing this review, online multiplayer wasn’t an option, but I did get the opportunity to set up multiplayer games with bots. Each match can include between two and four players competing in a variety of game modes as they compete to be the first to three victories.
You have game modes that include: first to ten hits, throw a disc to pass a bomb to someone else and be the last one standing, one disc that everybody competes to take in another last one standing scenario, king of the hill where you hit the crown holder to take it while then not getting hit, and more. Although it seems like there is a lot of variety in the game modes, they all boil down to the same thing due to the limited gameplay mechanics: throw your discs and don’t get hit by other discs.
This gets tiresome quickly, especially if you’re playing with four people where so much is going on, it’s almost impossible to completely keep track of who is throwing what and where. Multiplayer becomes even more tiresome when you realize that you can’t pick your arenas. Although each arena feels fresh and nice while going through single player, you’ll quickly discover that many don’t lend themselves well to the hectic nature of multiplayer.
Some arenas feel crowded, and others inhibited design. One in particular set in outer-space makes it ridiculously difficult to keep track of where anything is. I found myself desiring earlier arenas from the single player campaign, but I was at the mercy of whatever the game randomly selected. In comparison, there is no leveling system implemented, offering a less crowded atmosphere for multiplayer engulfment.
Despite DiscStorm only having two modes, and single player only being approximately four-to-five hours long, I found a surprising number of glitches in the game that I hope are patched in due time.
In single player alone, I found things such as enemies not correctly spawning, forcing me to restart from the last checkpoint to proceed. I was spawned on top of where a boss was spawning multiple times after dying, causing me to lose one health before I could move. I had hit-box issues with some enemies where I’d see my disc pass right through them without doing any damage, and where an enemy attack would somehow hit me despite not actually touching my character.
The boss sequence for the mine level was especially broken where restarting the sequence would cause the fight to begin despite the text boxes still being on screen. In the first part of the final boss fight, every time I died and respawned, an extra disc was laying on the field despite me already having the maximum capacity of three on hand. To add onto these, there were also some aesthetic issues in certain stages, although they weren’t as prominent or as numerous as the gameplay related bugs.
Thankfully, multiplayer seemed to work okay, but that’s likely due to it only having the most basic elements of the gameplay, as it lacks the many enemy and boss types of the single player mode.
The Bottom Line
Overall, DiscStorm isn’t a bad game. It also isn’t a very good one. Gameplay can become frustrating, whether it’s because you’re dying often in single player or because your skills just aren’t good enough to handle multiplayer. A significant number of noticeable bugs impact the single player campaign, and the simplistic gameplay can ultimately become boring and repetitive with a lack of features to add some much needed variety.
With some patches, at least the bugs can be cleaned up, but I can’t see most people coming back to DiscStorm more than a few times, despite the multiplayer offerings.