Disc Room Review – Punishingly Fun
Punishingly difficult games often walk a fine design line balancing fun and rage. This fine line pushes players to continue trying even when they are leaning more towards the rage side of the balancing act. Many beloved titles have nailed this balance perfectly producing gameplay that continually punishes players yet leaves them coming back for more. Developers Terri, Dose, Kitty, and JW have created their own punishingly difficult, top-down, disc-dodging survival game called Disc Room. Does this game hit the sweet spot between the fun and the rage? Check out our thoughts in our Disc Room review below.
Discs of Fun and Destruction
Disc Room has a fairly basic story. One day in the year 2089 a giant disc appears in the orbit of Jupiter. A group of brave scientists enter the disc to explore it. What they find are rooms filled with discs in what the developers call a “sprawling intergalactic slaughterhouse.” That’s really all you need to know on the story front. That’s not to say there isn’t an overarching story told through minor cutscenes presented in a comic-book aesthetic it’s just the core of this game is in its gameplay.
Gameplay in Disc Room is surprisingly simple. You start a room either filled with discs or that will have discs spawn in. These discs violent spin round the room ricocheting crazily in an effort to kill you. One touch of a disc results in the gory death your scientist who explodes into a million bloody pieces. When you die (and you will) in a room you instantly respawn to try again creating the classic masochistic feedback loop fans of these types of games will immediately recognize.
When not dying to discs your goal in each room is to survive long enough to complete room specific objectives. These objectives start out rather simple like surviving for a specific amount of time and quickly ramp up into much more difficult tasks like completing boss battles. Each room objective you complete is tied to a locked door in that room which will open upon completion, allowing you to venture down paths leading deeper into the giant disc where harder rooms await.
As you progress deeper in the giant disc rooms become more difficult to complete. This is where abilities come into play. As you explore each room you will unlock abilities that can be used to improve your room survivabililty. These abilities come in a few varieties and use cases and can be applied before the start of a room. As you get further into the game smart usage of your abilities often becomes the thing keeping you alive for a few extra seconds. These abilities work fairly well for the most part but some feel far more useful than others. I played through much of the game relying solely on the Dash ability and never felt like I need to change them all that often.
Exploration is another aspect of the game that I found to be surprisingly filled out. There a ton of secrets to find, new discs to die to, and even glitch rooms to stumble upon. All of these discoveries are tracked on an easy to use start screen that is accessible at any time in the game. This emphasis on exploration extends the life of the game and caused me to scour corners of the game I normally wouldn’t have. The sheer amount of content the developers have pulled out of this simple concept is impressive to say the least.
Surprising Difficulty Accessibility
If trying the same rooms over and over again is not your style there is a surprising amount of control over the game’s difficulty players can tinker with. In the options you can change things like game speed, disc speed, set spawn indicators and more. This means you can tailor the experience to your liking making the experience as easy or hard as you would like it to be. Having this much control over elements of the game is an interesting idea that allows almost anyone interested in Disc Room to get through it how they want.
Disc Room is an incredibly well made and well presented indie title. While playing I found myself comparing it to something like a Super Meat Boy in terms of the core gameplay loop and quality. You initially start off dying often but the fun is in the progression in skill and knowledge you get as you complete each room and delve deeper into the great disc. This rock-solid gameplay loop coupled with a tremendous amount of accessibility options on how difficult the game is makes it an easy to pick up and play title for almost anyone.