Making the leap from XBLA to PC, Dog Theory’s Disastr_Blastr is sure to challenge even the most battle-hardened twin-stick-shooter veterans.
Indie Heaven is an area of the ScrewAttack Gaming Convention devoted towards showcasing independently-developed titles from local studios, ranging from one-person projects to full development teams. Among the new games featured at SGC 2015 was Disastr_Blastr, a twin-stick-shooter from Joel Christiansen of Dog Theory Games.
Disastr_Blastr features a very minimalist aesthetic, as everything is constructed with squares; the player, enemies, the environment- Disastr_Blastr is set within a “blocky” 2D world, backed by a pulsing energetic soundtrack. One of the key gameplay points of Dog Theory’s title, enemies behave at random, making each level virtually impossible to memorize; each play-through is a brand new experience.
Having spent just under an hour with the SGC demo, Christiansen’s game is undoubtedly hard. I began my plunge into insanity by taking on the first available boss in the demo. I was trapped in a large room with a massive block that bounced around in random directions. A plethora of weapons lined the walls, offering the likes of a five-block spread-shot, a rotating tri-shot, wave-shot, cluster-shot and a laser, with the last being the most powerful option.
After destroying the initial block, it shattered into multiple smaller ones, with each bouncing around the room at random speeds. I thought I had the boss encounter under control, until the game decided to plunge into absolute madness. After breaking each of the blocks, a handful of orange blocks shot out, along with a wave of even faster blocks. Disastr_Blastr‘s first boss quickly morphed from your average endurance-based boss fight, into a near “Bullet Hell” level encounter. I tried several tactics ranging from a patient, somewhat surgical execution of each block, to just blazing through the arena with the spread-shot. After a solid 30 minutes, I declared myself bested by the first boss of the SGC demo…so I decided to attack the final boss and the unlocked “challenge ladder” boss, with each fight resulting in the same conclusion- satisfactory failure.
Despite my efforts, I kept wanting to play more; my faults didn’t lie in an unfair difficulty or “cheap deaths”, but my own execution of each level. I understood how I died, and saw what I had to do to at least try to prevent it from happening again. Disastr_Blastr quickly turned into one of the most addicting experiences of SGC 2015.
Having messed around with the full version, Disastr_Blastr includes over 100 levels distributed between scrolling stages, endurance encounters, and more bosses that escalate into ridiculous levels of difficulty; one such boss unlocked in the SGC demo was a screen-filling giant pink block, with tentacles that shoot and reflect projectiles. While a game this challenging may not appeal to more casual players, Disastr_Blastr is definitely a title for the twin-stick veterans, arcade enthusiasts, and self-proclaimed gaming masochists.
Image courtesy of Dog Theory Games