There’s something to be said about developers who can take a simple concept and expertly craft an entire game around it. One that I think does this well is Minit, a cute little adventure game in which you die every 60 seconds. The developers behind Minit are proving that lightning can, in fact, strike in the same place twice as their newest game, Disc Room with Devolver Digital, deftly achieves this same magical design philosophy with the bullet hell subgenre.
In Disc Room, you find yourself in the year 2089 exploring a giant disc that appeared in Jupiter’s orbit. It’s up to you to explore this mysterious vessel and avoid the dangers within. Honestly, there’s not much more to the story than that. Upon beating the boss of each of the game’s five regions, you’ll be rewarded with a small cutscene to move the plot along, but it’s pretty standard fare for a sci-fi adventure. But it serves its purpose well enough, as you won’t be playing Disc Room for its story to begin with.
The real reason to play through the game comes via its gameplay. As you explore the disc’s five sections, you’ll pass through a series of rooms designed to kill you. Within each room, Disc Room plays like a bullet hell as you try to survive an onslaught of enemy discs. The general goal of each room is to survive as long as possible, though each segment accomplishes this slightly differently. At the beginning, it’s simply survival, but later on, you’ll find that time only counts while you’re in the room’s center ring or by flipping the room’s floor tiles. As you progress, you’ll also acquire abilities such as a dash or the ability to clone yourself to help with these rooms, but you can only have one equipped at a time, adding a bit of strategy to the mix as well.
I was very impressed by the diversity in enemy types, despite their all being spinning discs of doom. The ones you encounter early are pretty standard saw blades. But you’ll quickly find yourself squaring off against discs that break into smaller ones, discs that track and dash toward you, and discs that push you away from them, among many other types. In fact, there are over 60 different types of discs to encounter!
Each room you find yourself in contains a set of objectives to complete, which generally range from surviving for a specified time to being killed by different types of discs. As you complete these objectives, doors will unlock to new rooms, in which you’ll have more objectives to complete. In a sense, there’s a bit of a Metroidvania-like aspect to it, where you’ll often have to skip over some of these objectives, then come back to them later to progress. The in-game map is a fantastic help here, as not only can you check the objectives in each unlocked room, but you can warp to any of them at any time, allowing you to quickly get to where you need to be.
Casually, I took about three hours to complete the game, which was a nice little diversion. However, there’s much more to Disc Room than simply beating the game. If you truly want to complete the game, you’ll have to hunt down every type of disc in the game and die to it. Some are naturally found through playing, but others require you to survive a long period of time or to solve a puzzle to find. There are also optional challenges (such as never revisiting a room) to complete and an unlockable hard mode if you really want to grind your gears. It all adds a significant amount of replayability to the experience.
The only real complaint I have about Disc Room is that some of its rooms rely a bit too heavily on RNG for my liking. There were a number of times throughout my playthrough where I got backed into a corner early on based on the discs’ movement, with no way out aside from dying. I understand that in a game like this there’s no avoiding RNG, and worst case scenario, I was only out a few seconds due to the short length of each room. But it still felt like it started me off in an unwinnable position a bit too much.
That said, Disc Room is a fantastic game. When I was playing, I got completely absorbed into the experience, so much so that the night I started I put four straight hours into it without realizing. It can be a little on the difficult side (rarely unfairly so), but this really added to the sense of accomplishment and progression that kept me locked into the game. I’m completely blown away that, for a game with such a simple concept, there’s so much variety in design and so much content to discover. The team behind Disc Room obviously put a lot of love and effort into making it, and it shows. If you’re even the slightest bit interested in it, you should give Disc Room a try.
A review code was provided by the publisher.