PAX East 2020 Hands-on: Disc Room

What kills you only makes you stronger.

The above words set the stage for Digital Devolver’s latest project Disc Room, a collaboration between Kitty Calis, Jan Willem Nijman, Terri Vellmann and Doseone coming to PC and unspecified consoles in 2020.

I had the pleasure of trying the Disc Room demo at PAX East 2020 this year. While furiously running for my life, I was taken in by the ambiguous narrative and creative play style. Players will have to dodge, duck, and inevitably die as they explore an intergalactic slaughterhouse in this new title based off 70’s and 80’s science fiction favorites.

It’s not often anymore that you hear a game described purely as a dodge em’ up. With no weapons or way to fight back in sight, you know only this: the year is 2089 and a giant disc has appeared in orbit of Jupiter. Your mission is to find out what exactly this disc is concealing within.

Unfortunately, humanity’s thirst for understanding means that someone had to be unlucky enough to be sent in first and that person is you, a brave but inevitably doomed scientist. Flung into something you are woefully underprepared for, and with no backup in sight, the game becomes a test of trial and error as you learn that death is only the beginning in this charismatic sci-fi tale.

Coming from a publisher well-known for Enter the Gungeon, a game where the focus on weapons is literally part of the title itself, Disc Room is an enjoyable contrast to bullet hell style games.

Someone had to be unlucky enough to be sent in first and that person is you.

Discoveries feel truly organic as you experiment with ways to survive long enough to further your understanding of the alien craft. Periodic cutscenes are delivered in textless comic strips, leaving players room to draw their own conclusions while journeying ever deeper.

Being killed not only reveals further information about the possible goals of certain rooms, but also allows you to reset in nearby chambers. Death at the hands of different blade types can even provide players with unique abilities. For example, when confronted by a pitch black room, dying to the serrated end of a certain blade-type can gift players the ability to shed literal light on the previously confounding chamber. This style of skill acquisition makes your countless deaths almost become something to look forward to.

The game also sports a sliding difficulty scale that can be adjusted at will. Changing this will slow or speed up the pace of the blades so that players can choose to die at their own pace. Curious about the focus on death as a mechanic in the game, I was told by the developers that they felt death was an integral part of the gaming experience, so why not make it fun?

I have to admit, fun was definitely something that came to mind as I threw myself into hurricanes of blades and laughed at the charming animation style. The basic concepts of the game are easy to grasp, but will undoubtedly be hard to master for challenge seekers.

Running through the story should take you roughly 2-3 hours, though of course this all depends on how quickly you learn, discover, and adapt. With plenty of easter eggs, secret rooms, and bonus unlocks to be found, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are many more hours to be enjoyed beyond your first run.

Disc Room will be releasing in 2020 for PC and unspecified consoles.