Game Title: Laser Disco Defenders
Developer: Excalibur Games
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: Vita
Download: 285 MB
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: No
If you could combine two gaming genres for one game, what would you choose? Rhythm and RPGs like Square Enix’s Theatrhythm Final Fantasy series? TPS and Racing? Puzzle and RTS? There are a lot of choices out there and, odds are, what you would choose has already been made in the indie world.
Combining genres has been done by games since forever but now we see more interesting and unique combinations. Indie games help mold these new combinations and offer new types of experiences to go through. So, that’s what we’re going to be going into today.
Ever played a cross between a rogue and a bullet hell title? Now you have. Here’s my review of Laser Disco Defenders!
Star Trek meets Disco. In the galaxy, there is a group of disco-loving Warriors aboard a starship. The four varied but groovy shipmates are known as the Laser Disco Defenders, protecting the galaxy from all music that would tear down the power of disco. Monotone, a being aiming to tear that down has been tracked to a cave in a moon. The Defenders then set out to find him and make sure his plan does not succeed.
The plot of the game is as funny as the description sounds. It has this serious Star Trek-like feel to it but then throws all of this wacky disco lingo into the mix to make it have a very comedic flow to it. Each time you get a cut scene, you’ll be laughing and chuckling because of how well the disco lingo can fit into this science fiction plot line.
Laser Disco Defenders is like some crazy mix between rogues like The Binding of Isaac and Bullet Hell games. You’ll be going through randomly-generated rooms in dungeons, firing off lasers towards enemies as well as fighting bosses.
When the game begins, you’ll see the introduction cutscenes, but then you’ll be thrown into the Main Menu, where you can choose what game mode you’d like to play. The main two modes are Story Mode and Endless Mode, though you have to beat Story Mode before you can unlock and play Endless Mode. You also have the Tutorial which can lead straight into the Story Mode levels when you first want to learn how the game works.
Speaking of that, the game works by dropping you into a stage you can freely wander around in with your jet pack, filled with obstacles and enemies. In every stage, you must defeat all enemies to open up a portal that leads to the next stage. You then repeat this process until you get through everything.
This sounds simple, but what makes this game unique makes it anything but. When you fire a laser, the laser doesn’t disappear once it hits a wall, hazard, or enemy. It stays in the level, endlessly ricocheting around the level until you leave. So, if you have 5 enemies and have good aim, you’ll have to avoid enemy fire as well as the lasers you fired, yourself. If you have a quick trigger finger like me, you’re going to be dodging a lot of your own lasers that can hurt you just as easily as enemies can. Dodging lasers may sound easy, but when you’re in a small room with 50 small lasers, it’s not as easy as it sounds.
To help you with this, there are four different characters to use, all with different attack types and speeds. Some have more health but move slower, while other characters move very quickly but have small amounts of health and quicker attacks. There are also a lot of costumes and accessories you can unlock as you play to help with movement and some that help you aim towards enemies.
The variety is good because the way movement works feels really clunky. Moving around with the super-fast character Liz is pretty intense, but no matter what character you use, the movement methods of going up and down feels really sluggish and out of place in this type of game. It doesn’t make the game any harder than it already is, but the flow just feels really clunky.
The difficulty level of how the game works is where the game’s longevity comes into play. Since the game randomly generates maps, you can’t memorize enemy locations to master the game. You have to increase your skill and that means lots and lots and lots of retries. If you are a master, the game isn’t really that long. However, the difficulty and learning curve are what gives it the length it has.
You can’t really fault the game for it’s difficulty, since it is explained and it is purely a matter of skill with being careful with your shots. However, even with the difficulty curve in mind, it won’t take you long to play through it. Maybe a couple hours or so.
Moving around in the game is a pretty simple task. However, this is not compatible with the PlayStation TV. I won’t go diving deep into reasoning, but the developers are considering added support via a patch later on, so it might be compatible soon enough.
One thing you should note is that the D-Pad is not used for movement. That is reserved for the Left Analog Stick. Even the menus are navigated with the Left Analog Stick. This may throw you for a loop at first, but there are on-screen prompts for everything to make sure you’re never thrown under the bus for anything.
Visually, the game is 2D, but it looks very colorful and cute. The color scheme of everything, from the costumes to the lasers really fits the disco theme of the game. Even further, the portals between stages has a very disco-ball feel to them, which further helps that theme stick out as you play.
Performance has no issues. The game runs well, sound quality is nice, and all around is optimized for the Vita in a very nice manner. Granted, PSTV Support would have been nice, but otherwise, it is well-optimized.