What happens when you take the hardcore thriller sport of playing frisbee in the park and cross it with swarms of mobs that want to kill you? You get a game from XMPT Games called DiscStorm, a fast-paced arena fighter that doesn’t mess around. Good luck trying to get the achievement of getting an A rank in all stages, you’re gonna need it.
Before I begin a new game, one of the very first trips I make is to the options menu to see what I’m able to tweak. The available options in DiscStorm are pretty basic with your usual fare of screen resolution, fullscreen mode, and master volume. There’s also an option to toggle camera shaking off and on; the other remaining options are rumble and language. Available languages are English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian and Portuguese for anyone wondering. Curiously, rumble enabled didn’t quite work for me. I’ve made sure to try another game I had to check if it were an issue with my controller, but it seems my controller’s rumble feature works perfectly fine.
After the options are set up, time to jump into the fray! Whoa, slow your roll. One does not simply hop onto the battlefield without knowing what they’re doing first. Lucky you, there’s a training dojo with a feisty old woman to show you the ropes. From basic mechanics to getting some fight training in, you’re gonna want to hit up the dojo to get a feel for the game. Once you’re done training, you’re ready to fight some bosses—completing a stage unlocks the next one. Depending on the environment, physics within the stages can change. Thought I should point that out.
What you quickly find out is that you can’t spam your way to victory. The name of the game is DiscStorm, and as the name implies, you fight with discs—three of them to be exact. The difference between life and death can hinge on whether or not you have a disc at your disposal. Once you’re out of ammo, the only thing you can do is a dash, which leaves you temporarily invincible. Of course, you can use this to your advantage to collect your discs if they’re out of reach and mobs are in your way. Don’t expect the dash to work through lasers, however. Believe me, I’ve tried.
Difficulty-wise, there is noticeable scaling. Personally, I have gone from casually destroying some zombies to dropping a lot of f bombs. By no means does this translate into the game being hard to pick up! Anyone can pick up this game in little time; it’s the mastery that’s a whole other story. What it does mean is that it’s really easy to die in the later stages—and the early ones on your first play through. You defeat mobs in waves with mini boss intervals in between—each time you progress past a wave you hit get a checkpoint. The pattern goes: mob wave, mini boss, mob wave, stronger form of the mini boss, mob wave, and the final boss. I will give XMPT kudos for the witty writing between waves of your character exchanging dialogue with the bosses of that level—even if it is a bit punny. As far as I’m aware, character dialogue isn’t influenced by which character you choose.
I am unsure how well the game feels playing via the keyboard since I’ve followed XMPT’s recommendation of using my 360 controller. As far as controls go, they’re straight forward: the shoulder buttons control attacking/deflecting while “X” is catching. One thing I wish you could do is map buttons as I found myself tapping “A” instead of “X” when catching my disc on the rebound. Not something to knock the game for, just something that would have been appreciated. Word of advice, don’t panic if you find things getting too hectic. Panicking tends to lead to your inevitable death and the aforementioned f bombs.
What stuck out for me wasn’t the single player campaign—more on that to come—but the soundtrack. I’m a sucker for chip-tunes and the composer wizardry responsible for DiscStorm’s audio track did not disappoint. Each stage had music that suited the situation and added to the atmosphere. It wasn’t only the music that was pleasing, the art had its own charm—Gustav probably has my favorite portrait, that stare is the best. Each character’s design is diverse and the little outfits you can unlock for your character adds a little something extra.
That was single player; multiplayer is a whole other ballgame. Hope you mastered the training dojo because things get real when you have 4 players (human or AI) flinging death discs at 100MPH your direction. While there isn’t much variety in single player, you have different game modes in multi.
Not even the most hectic of single player stages will properly prepare you for disc Armageddon. You’ll have to keep a close eye on where your character is positioned and what you’re doing or else it’s game over. When it’s just you and a swarm of baddies, you can plan out your next move—maybe do a trick shot with some geometry to get a nice sweep. Not so when you’re against other players; your screen becomes a flying mine field of destruction with very little time to react. Oh how satisfying it is to knock an enemy disc back at their smug face.
Multiplayer is what will keep you wanting to hone your skills or drive you to rage quit—whichever comes first. XMPT is a new player to the game and suggest right at the very beginning to grab a controller and some friends to play some DiscStorm. The single player campaign isn’t going to win any prestigious awards and the writing, while appealing to some, may turn off others depending on individual sense of humor. Personally, I like corny dialogue in a game that knows not to take itself seriously. For XMPT’s next title, I would love for them to make some tweaks to make a polished master piece. With the good comes the bad, and I’ll have to be honest about what I’ve personally encountered while playing.
No game is perfect so I’ll have to touch on the flaws. Remember that single player campaign I mentioned? Let’s just say DiscStorm shines in multiplayer. Single player isn’t bad, but you’re left unsatisfied defeating the last boss. As difficult as that accomplishment may have been, the lack of fanfare didn’t make spending over half an hour worth of deaths feel rewarding. Another issue is that while the character designs are diverse, they are re-skins of one another. Having each character have slightly differing pros and cons would have added another level of depth in my opinion. Alternative outfits having an effect on your player beyond visuals would have also been a nice addition.
Flaws are one thing, bugs are another beast. In case a mob is trapped somewhere you couldn’t reach them, DiscStorm has the option to return from the last checkpoint. This is a minor bug that isn’t that big of a deal—boss bugs on the other hand are.
My first encounter with a boss bug actually worked in my favor (unsure if it were a bug, but I think it was); it happened on the Haunted Mansion stage. Long story short, the boss kinda stood there while I easily chipped away at her health. Enchanted Forest also seemed bugged to me. You fight a giant tree and one phase has spikes shooting out of the ground with a patch of clearing. Logically, you think you stand in that patch to avoid death spikes, but those spikes didn’t do damage—I took advantage of this to collect my discs at a brisk pace. Abandoned Mine was next and was the cause of so much swearing. Why? Mine carts, projectiles everywhere, and having the first two times of defeating the boss resulting in an infinite loop of death animations/sounds. Third time’s the charm is a popular saying, but it’s frustrating when that’s the case in defeating a boss since it bugged the first couple of defeats. The last boss was hell, not any game breaking bugs, but I did manage to have an excess of discs laying around having to reset many times. Hopefully someone from XMPT checks into this and comes out with a patch. It could have been an isolated case, but you never know.
With a couple of more tweaks, I can see XMPT providing some potential cult hits in the future. Retro gamers appreciate pixel art and the soundtrack is already pretty nice. Add more character development and flesh out single player in any newer titles is my recommendation.
DiscStorm was provided for review by the publisher.
Discstorm is a fun game to play with friends, but single player needs more love, characters could use more variation and some kinks could be ironed out.