Laser Disco Defenders might be coated in a classic vibe, but it sure plays like a shiny new product.
Skate and glide your way through levels of top-down gameplay. Blast your enemies away with your groovy lasers, and make sure your outfit is looking good. Four playable characters and chaotic gameplay makes this one a blast to play. It’s clean, smooth, and a hell of a lot of fun.
Top-down, twin-stick, procedurally generated, bullet hell games are dime-a-dozen these days. If you fancy a go with a game of that style, you won’t be hard-pressed to find one. That being said, not all games within that genre are alike and/or equal. Laser Disco Defenders is just different enough, and good enough, that it might not slip away into nameless abyss of similar titles. Intense gameplay, combined with striking visuals and a killer soundtrack definitely make this one standout. It’s not all smiles though. Laser Disco Defenders can make you rage just as quickly as it makes you want to cut a rug on the dance floor. But that shouldn’t keep you away too long.
One of the first things that you’ll notice playing through the game is that enemy bullets aren’t the only issue. Every bullet you fire adds to the myriad of bullets ricocheting aimlessly around each level. So, unless you’re a masochist or extremely confident, the spray and pray method isn’t advised. This idea, which developers Out Of Bounds describe as a “self-inflicted bullet hell”, is brilliant. I’m finally being punished for mindlessly firing my way through a bullet hell game and I’m not even mad. It’s a beautiful, built-in checks and balances system. You and the enemy are equally liable for your death, if you’re not careful. Add to that the procedural generation of each level, and there’s no real way to craft a strategy that will always work.
Story Mode and Endless Mode exist as the admittedly scarce gameplay variants. However, there’s enough groovy stuff going on that you never truly feel a lack of content. Picking your character is based mainly off one component when it comes down to it: speed. There are four characters, each starting with a certain amount of health and inherent speed. The more health, the less speed, and vice versa. Speed is all that really matters because although it’s tough to manoeuvre the caves with only one health, you can pick up health but cannot obtain more speed. Along the same lines, each character can change their outfits (basically your loadout) to vary the way you play. These outfit changes affect things like your shot speed, number of shots, movement, and bonuses like taking one hit before taking actual damage. It’s a nice element of individuality for the player to explore.
Gaining new outfit pieces is accomplished by completing missions. These missions vary from basic enemy kills, to score, or reaching a certain level. They, obviously, become more difficult as you go along. A leaderboard function for those who thirst for stardom exists, too. While the scope of the game is quite small, the amount of fun to be had is massive. The soundtrack is fantastic, the gameplay is smooth as silk, and the challenge is addictive. Balancing lightning fast reaction times with economical bullet use is key. You’re bound to die, a lot, though it never feels unfair. One mark of a great game, for me, is how well it can pull you back after a crushing defeat, and this one’s got quite the lure. Laser Disco Defenders is crafted in such a way that every time you die, you immediately want to push it further.
Your goal, as a defender, is to stop Lord Monotone from making everyone have to listen to his horrible taste in music. That’s a campaign worth fighting for in my opinion. Along your way through the treacherous levels, you’ll also find some power-ups. Beam swords, which give you a giant laser to swing around, the ability to slow down time (and yourself), and black hole type attacks. Enemy variation is slim, but they’ll be jumbled together randomly that it creates exciting battles. Level design is good, and it’s never the same run twice. With Laser Disco Defenders, the excitement level of each run is high and each one feels just different enough. You’ll be hours into it before you even realize it.
Sometimes, you just want a casual game to take your mind off everything. Then, after a little while, you realize you’re not stimulated enough by it. Laser Disco Defenders bridges the gap between casual and hardcore in brilliant fashion. Though you’ll be challenged and may get frustrated, the game plays to your liking, in a way. You can go in guns blazing and watch your runs end quickly, or you can be patient, play more methodically, and still have fun. That ability this game has is one of its best features. You truly dictate the flow of the game, and, in part, how difficult you want it to be. The looser that trigger finger, the more problems you have. Laser Disco Defenders is hectic, vibrant, addicting fun.