When I first heard about Laser Disco Defenders, I was immediately intrigued. It had a very unique premise and setting, adding some interesting new mechanics to the shoot ’em up and bullet hell genres. While I did end up slightly underwhelmed by Laser Disco Defenders due to its repetitive nature and lackluster presentation, I would still recommend it to shoot ’em up fans looking for something new and interesting to play in this long running genre of games.
Lord Monotone is sullying the universe with his horrible music, so it is up to the titular Laser Disco Defenders to stop him. It’s a silly premise that is made even funnier by its wacky Disco-themed space setting. It is definitely something that I have never seen in a game before, and while the story is basic, it is very enjoyable. It is told through stylish, comic book-type scenes with dazzling colors and enjoyable humor.
Unfortunately cutscenes do not play as one goes through the levels; instead, players can unlock them after getting through a certain number of caves and view them from the main menu. This ultimately makes the story feel disjointed. The story does not have much effect on the gameplay though, but it is still an odd choice to make to relay the story to players.
Laser Disco Defenders is very hard, despite its simple controls. Players can move around and shoot lasers at enemies, and they move on to the next level when they kill all of the enemies in an area. Players try to get through as many levels as they can before dying, because when they die they are sent back to the start. Multiple things complicate this though. Laser Disco Defenders is a rogue-lite game, so the caves are randomly generated each time the player enters, preventing memorization.
In most bullet hell games, players usually have no problem holding down the fire button and blasting away. That doesn’t work in this game, as your own shots can come back and kill you if you aren’t careful. This is a very original mechanic that ramps up the difficulty of the game while still keeping it fair. Laser Disco Defenders is as hard as you make it, so for many first time players, it will be quite challenging. It can be really drain you at times though, as it can be frustratingly difficult sometimes to aim your shots, and enemies sometimes blend into the background.
Each of the four playable characters also plays slightly differently. Mr. Baker (the pink one) has the most health, but moves very slowly when compared to the other characters, sometimes making it hard to dodge bullets. Tommy (the blue one) is very moderate in both his speed and health, making him a good option for first time players who want to get a feel of the mechanics. After that there is Donna (the green one) who is slightly faster than the previous two characters, but has less health, making surviving as her more challenging. Finally there is Liz (the yellow one) who is very fast, but only can take one hit before death, making her the “hard mode” of an already difficult game. I would only recommend Liz to shoot ’em up veterans who get used to the game’s controls, although beating levels with her proves immensely satisfying.
As players progress through the caves, they can pick up a variety of power-ups to assist them in defeating the various enemies. These include the Dark Light Vortex, which sucks out all beams in an area, making it extremely useful in hectic situations; the Beam Blade, which allows the player to slice through enemies from a distance without having to shoot them; Slowmo, which slows down time when the player aims; and the Laser Inferno, which makes bullets disappear upon impact, making the game less difficult as you no longer have to worry about dodging your own bullets. Players can also pick up hearts to add to their health in levels, which is very useful for characters like Liz who almost have no health.
Players also have a variety of objectives to complete when diving into the caves, and they all give the player experience when completed. If the player gets enough experience points, they level up, and gain new items to add to their character. This equipment can do things such as protect the player from one extra hit, change what kind of lasers players shoot, or increase their speed. This gives some individual customization to the characters, and makes the game fit more in its rouge-like style.
Laser Disco Defenders also has an endless mode, where players try to go through as many levels as they can in order to get the highest score. I found this mode nearly pointless, as the main story is already so difficult that it itself will seem like an endless run to many players. Only absolutely amazing players will get anything different out of the endless mode when compared to the story mode. An alternate mode, such as a local co-op versus arena mode would have felt more in place here.
While I did have fun with Laser Disco Defenders, it was not as memorable as I wanted it to be. For a game with such a wacky premise and interesting mechanics, it doesn’t stick with the player as much as it should. The game played it safe with a lot of its visuals and music, which is where the game could have truly excelled. The game’s difficulty will most likely make the game too repetitive to players at some point, as it did the same to me in long sessions of playtime.
If you are a fan of shoot ’em up or bullet hell style games, I would recommend Laser Disco Defenders to you. It adds some interesting mechanics to the genre and has a very wacky premise. While the game is not as memorable as I would have like, and can be too difficult at times, it is still unlike any other game of this style that I have played before. Even though the game may not stick with me as long as one could, it manages to be something original in such a crowded genre of games, which is very impressive.