Disc Room is simply a fun time. It is panic-inducing, and it feels like old-school arcade games where the timer is important and you need to pay very close attention to every millimeter of your surroundings. This is something that I did not expect to be so invested in, but trying to beat the dev record times motivated me in ways I can’t describe.
Devolver Digital has done a fantastic job getting this one out there, and the team of Kitty Calis, Jan Willem Nijman, Terri Vellmann, and Doseone has proved that an all-star indie team can come together and make something both original and incredibly entertaining. Should you give this game a try? Well, I think you may already know my opinion.
The story is rather simple, albeit a bit difficult to understand since there are no words or narration to tell you what is happening. However, Disc Room plays the picture book storytelling route where we are introduced to various images that tell a compelling story of intrigue, betrayal, and confusion.
I honestly did not expect much from a game that chops me into pieces room after room after room, but something about this approach was attractive and spoke deeply with its lack of words. You are able to make your own story as you progress, and that is something special in modern day gaming where normal storytelling is shoved down your throat.
Each room presents you with a set of challenges that are simple in request but aggravating in execution. This is the kind of aggravation that existed back in the old arcade days where it motivates you to keep going, to try again, and to beat the top score. In Disc Room, you have the developers’ best scores looming in the corner, and it takes a lot of willpower and humility to bow to their scores and move on. It is this type of game.
I really enjoyed how you unlocked more enemies in the bestiary, and it is by finding those special buzzsaws and getting yourself dismembered by them. Most of the saws are obvious and standout as part of a room’s theme, but there are special and hidden saws within certain rooms that take some brain juice to figure out and a lot of skill to encounter. I found this unique approach simply fascinating, and I was obsessed with figuring out all of the different enemies in each room… and getting killed by them.
The challenges are varied, but most of them are “Survive X amount of seconds”. Many of the others require you to accomplish other tasks elsewhere in order to continue. Things like “Die from X Disc Types” where you need to go around the map and accumulate deaths from a certain amount of different blades, or “Unlock X type of abilities” which requires you to have a certain amount of powerups to continue.
And finding these abilities is a treat. The first time you earn one, it may take you by surprise, because it is earned in the most unorthodox way (But the most Disc Room way); getting killed by special discs. Some are a bit more obvious, but others require some puzzle solving, which is something Disc Room does really well. In the midst of a hectic game like this, there are some truly witty puzzles packed into these rooms.
The one ability I had the most fun with was the clone ability. At the sacrifice of some of your time, you can replicate yourself, and this can create some wacky scenarios where tons of body parts are painted all over the screen from the dead clones you instantly killed by accident. Creating enough clones will cause the game to lag, but that is actually a good thing for a game that moves so fast.
There is something else that Disc Room does that is especially its own, and that is boss fights. The first time I encountered one, it took me a moment to realize it was a boss, because once again, we are being bombarded by spinning sawblades coming from every direction. Boss fights are incredible and uniquely Disc Room‘s, and although each boss is a variant of a disc, each battle is different and challenges you in ways you wouldn’t expect.
Unfortunately, I did run into a bad and repetitive error in Phantom Gatekeeper, one of the boss rooms early on, that kept crashing my game. It eventually let me finish the fight, but it only took about 20 attempts of restarting the game before it did so. This is bad, because progression requires that this boss be defeated and that can be problematic for some players until they patch it.
The game’s map is really large and there are loads of rooms and challenges to explore and conquer, but the main campaign can still be cleared rather quickly. I honestly did not mind the game’s length, because I found myself playing it a whole lot more after clearing it (Thanks especially to a hard mode that adds a whole lot more replay value!). Someone’s got to find all of those secrets and collect all of those discs for the bestiary, am I right?
Despite that one crashing error and some experience with lag, I found the majority of my time with the game to be incredibly positive and loads of fun. At its core, though, Disc Room is an oldschool arcade game, but around the core is an interesting story, a lot of substance, and an experience unlike any other.
Disc Room will not be winning any awards for what it is offering, but this is a game that one can enjoy alone or alongside friends to see who can get the best score in a room. For the price, this is a game that offers a lot to its player, but it is a niche game for a niche market. Devolver Digital does well at finding these types of unique games, and Disc Room is a great addition to their library.
Disc Room Review provided by NintendoLink
Review also available on OpenCritic
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Kitty Calis, Jan Willem Nijman, Terri Vellmann, Doseone
Release Date: October 22, 2020
Game Size: 241 MB
Disc-themed puzzles and bosses
Crippling bug in Phantom Gatekeeper
Game can lag if overloaded on screen
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.