The twin-stick shooter is a game genre that took of with Geometry Wars on the Xbox 360 last generation and has frequently had new titles released this generation on PS4, PS Vita, Nintendo Wii U and more. Its a fun genre that offers great arcade fun with lots of replay value.
Laser Disco Defenders by Out of Bounds Games released this title on the PlayStation Vita & PlayStation 4 recently and the question is if the game stands out among other twin-stick shooters with its creative visual design and unique laser blast mechanics.
The story here is of four heroes exploring the funky galaxy defending it with laser blasters and groovy jams. They are assigned to fight a new foe that threatens the galaxy and you explore various caves and other locations across space to save the world.
Its a very simple story but the way its presented has a lot of charm and style with our main foe having a comedic reason for his attack on the galaxy and everyone having Banjo-Kazooie like mumbling, which was quite charming to me personally.
Overall, it honestly isn’t anything special but the few cut-scenes here are well done and the fact a story is present here is a nice touch, considering many of games in this genre largely ignore the story.
Gameplay & Design
The game has two gameplay modes, with one being the story mode which has you exploring various caves and locations until you bump into the main foe & take him out, then progressing to the next location until the story ends. Survival Mode is unlocked later on and its an endless mode, where you keep playing until you run out of hearts (hits you can take).
You can also equip your four playable characters with different items that can help take an hit without losing a heart, change how you fire your shots and more. In addition to this, the other four playable characters have different movement speeds and amounts of hearts, making who you take into the levels all the more interesting.
Will you blast your way through using a fast character but risk dying faster, or take a slower character but have more hearts to work with? It creates a level of strategy that I enjoyed and helped me play with every character across the game.
The core gameplay is an exploration take on the genre; you move on a 2D plane with the left stick, shoot with the R button and aim with the right stick. But you have to kill all the foes in every randomly generated level you fly across and what makes things interesting is your laser shots. They can take out foes, but they can also harm you too. This, is what makes Laser Disco Defenders both very unique and one of the hardest variants of this genre I played thus far.
Laser shots recoil and with careful aiming, you can fire just two or three really well aimed shots and kill everything with little problem. But you run into later levels where a lot of foes are all over the place and you feel pressured to fire rapidly. This is a habit I have in every twin-stick shooter I played and it was a very hard thing to overcome for me personally; I died quite a few times during my run through the games story mode.
But having this mechanic with your laser shot is so rewarding, as if you blast a ton of shots and have great control over your character, its a sight to behold having hundreds of laser blasts bouncing all over the place while you carefully fly around them all. Overall, the core gameplay of Laser Disco Defenders is very fun and rewarding despite a long learning curve that might be tricky to deal with.
The game has story mode that takes a long time to beat, as the high challenge level was the reason this review took so long to come out. I beat the game in 5-6 hours but the unlockable Survival Mode and online leader boards can offer further replay value. Getting all the games challenges complete (which unlock special gear and different laser blasts to work with) & the PSN Trophies is also reason to go back to the game.
Presentation and Performance
Laser Disco Defenders runs very well on the PS Vita, with a locked frame rate despite how hectic things can become sometimes on screen. It has a great visual design, with the game oozing style and charm with its animations & character designs. The story scenes like I mentioned in the story portion of this review are an example of the care put into the games presentation.
On the PS4, the game likely runs at a higher resolution and like the Vita release, maintaining a locked 60FPS.
Story: 4 out of 5 / Gameplay & Design: 4 out of 5 / Replay Value: 4 out of 5 / Presentation & Performance: 5 out of 5
Laser Disco Defenders is a creative take on the twin stick shooter that does a lot right regarding its fun but simple story, great gameplay mechanics and great presentation. The challenges and high difficulty of the main story offer the game a high amount of replay value & lasting appeal. Overall, Laser Disco Defenders is a challenging but inventive take on the twin stick shooter and I recommend it if you want some fun groovy action on the PS Vita or PS4.
Overall: 4 out of 5
This game was reviewed on the PS Vita with a review copy provided by Out of Bound Games. The game is cross buy and cross save with the PS4 release, so you can play the game at home or on the go if you own both platforms.