The authors of Minit are back in the limelight with a puzzle game with frenzied action, all reflections, timing and rotating blades. Guarantees Devolver Digital.
Ah, video games that go straight to the point, how wonderful! The heart of the gameplay revealed by the electrocardiogram of the first level, a basic mechanism to be learned in a matter of seconds and then you start the climb against time, towards the highest score, observing stage after stage the idea of the developers flex, writhing, screaming, taken to the extreme, to the limit of the possibilities of a fixed screen level design, which cages the player and puts him back to the wall, as was used to do in the early days.
Because Disc Room, signed by the quartet Terry, Dose, Kitty and JW, already authors of the brilliant Minit (also Devolver Digital stable, here our review of Minit), is a modern Pac-Man, Bubble Bobble or Baloon Fight, a game so immediate that it needs two commands, one to move and the other to activate one of the abilities special. The rest is a combination of reflexes, adrenaline and pure survival spirit in an ecosystem of circular saws where the player is the last link in the food chain.
One dismemberment leads to another
The developers could have relied on a roguelite formula, which probably would also have been well adapted to the work, and instead they wanted to chisel their mysterious spaceship, in orbit around Jupiter, room after room, carefully choosing the traps, always very sharp, and consequently the objectives to unlock the following. The result is a loop of dismemberments in levels that start out legible but quickly become crowded, frantic, crazy, with the brain trying to anticipate the trajectory of the discs while another escapes our calculations and cuts us in half. Yet another reboot ensues, followed by a quick curse and a press on the button.
There is the disc that wanders aimlessly bouncing slowly against the walls, the one that seems to stay still and then loads like a bull in a fraction of a second, or those that shatter on impact giving life to a microscopic, very fast and lethal offspring. . A absolutely stimulating variety of behaviors to be studied with an almost documentary vein, then discovering another layer of unpredictability, the environmental one.
Areas where the chronometer moves only when inside a specific circular area or where Tremors-style worms pop out from under our feet treacherously others lit intermittently by infrared with decidedly distressing effects, up to futuristic rooms with floors made of iridescent tiles, where each change of color corresponds to a few tenths of a second gained. Disc Room also plays with psychology, with the fear of blunt objects, making us feel a tangible repulsion. A bit like what happened with the menacing spinning dangers of the excellent Super Meat Boy (while we’re at it, the Super Meat Boy review is a click away).
And how effective anxiolytics come to our aid skills to be unlocked as you explore, from the classic shot with frames of invincibility to the very useful and choreographic slow motion, even if the most bizarre remains the ability to clone, resulting in the delirium of astro-scientists who run like mad in panic and others who are torn apart without mercy , giving life to a macabre and ridiculous spectacle. A hellish circle for too curious space explorers, determined to break the loop of death in order to unravel the mystery.
An enviable balance of the challenge
However, Disc Room is not a ruthless game to satisfy the mere sadism of the developers, it is indeed a brilliant example of accessibility, giving players the possibility to modify all the parameters that make the work as sharp as a scalpel, with the possibility of turning it into a harmless scene dagger or into a real cleaver on the fingers. From the speed of action, discs or movement, up to the difficulty of the objectives (which can also be totally hidden, thus trying to proceed by attempts): all adjustable in a variable percentage, from 0 to 200, leaving the time to the player less able to take our hand and the professional to embark on an absolutely lethal and improbable challenge.
This malleability also results in a very subjective longevity, which ranges from 15 minutes of a speed run rewarded with an ad hoc achievement to 3 hours of our test (and about 300 deaths), with a subsequent endgame studied in a very intelligent and absolutely spicy way. But Devolver’s new work naturally becomes, once the running-in is finished, a challenge against time (of the other players), a climb to the leaderboard, an endurance against oneself, while the room becomes more and more suffocating and the spaces for maneuver must be calculated to the millimeter, resisting until the inevitable restart.
There are also variations on the theme, such as very tight boss fights and cryptic environmental puzzles that foment an atmosphere capable of giving extremely effective suggestions, especially when you take a break from the fury of the gameplay; the feeling of being an unwanted foreign body that triggered an angry immune response with metallic and glittering antibodies (some bosses explicitly are). Artificial organism with surprisingly biological routines, where we are the enemy, the threat, a virus that constantly tries to evade surveillance.
The narrative needs a handful of skits and no words, as essential as its delightful and stylized comic style. A’extremely alien work as his soundtrack knows how to be, a dark ambient electronic that raises the bpm in action and becomes more rusty, exciting, rough. This last adjective also applies to certain technical imperfections, one above all the possibility of getting entangled in some pixels out of place when they graze the walls of the arenas, leading to some death too many.
Nothing critical for a game that, as precise as it is in the controls, can become a real obsession in the right hands. A puzzle game outside the box, smart and unique in the panorama. In short, after having delighted with a metroidvania without a map and on the side of the monster (by the way, here our review of Carrion), another center for Devolver Digital.
Disc RoomPC Analyzed VersionDisc Room has a classic mentality, capable of exalting its basic mechanics to the extreme consequences of gameplay. A fixed-screen title all reflexes and endurance, record and stopwatch, death and rebirth, wedged in a fascinating alien frame and with a completely manual level design, leaving nothing to the roguelike. This does not prevent him from also having a certain variety, given both by the behavior of the various circular saws that will continually try to kill us, as by the particular environments in which the spaceship is divided, to which to add boss fights, puzzles and secret objectives. Of course, it is a puzzle game and must be taken as such, in all its obsessive reiteration of the mechanics, capable of inducing record-makers and completists into addiction. A small title that knows exactly what it wants and achieves its purpose with ideas and unavoidably reactive controls. Razor sharp.