PS Plus March 2017: Disc Jam [Review]
Are you ready to JAM?!
Subscribers to PlayStation Plus who have access to a Playstation 4 will be able to download and keep high Horse Entertainment's Disc Jam for free this month, but how does the game fare? Is it worth the space to download it? Let's jam and find out! High Horse Entertainment, a two-man team of industry veterans, released their first ever game under the High Horse name on the 7th of March, making it free for PS Plus subscribers upon release.
The game takes place on a court that is similar to a tennis court, a big rectangle with a net in the center but the game plays like a giant game of air hockey. Teams of one or two people take turns throwing a disc, trying to either get the disc into the back wall of the opposing side or onto the floor without it being caught. Players at the moment can pick one of four characters to play as;
Gator - the All-rounder, Haruka - the Fast running, Slow thrower, Stanton - The slow moving, strong thrower, and Makenna - Not as fast as Haruka but her curve throws go a lot wider.
Choosing who to play as comes down to your own personal preference. You don't get to know who your opponent is playing as until the match starts so you can't counter-pick your opponent. Some combinations in Doubles matches work wonders, for example, Haruka and Stanton which combines a high-speed catcher and a strong thrower but a skilled enough player can combo with anyone and still win. The game is easy to pick up but quite difficult to master. You can throw straight, throw at an angle, throw a curve, do skill shots that ride the side walls and perform drop shots that can play into your hands or give your opponent a massive advantage. The games are played in best of 3 rounds with a "first to 50 points" scoring system. scoring off of your first throw grants you a cool 10 points but after that points start from 5 and you gain an additional point for each catch and return in a rally. The game is bright and extremely faced paced. Playing with friends just adds to the fun but the game stands strong played in single player too.
After a game players earn points which after a thousand have been collected can be put into a slot machine for prizes including skins, taunts, victory poses, tags, icons and more. It only takes a few games to reach a thousand so you won't need hours upon hours of play to reap the rewards. Points can only be gained from online matches so playing offline will not let you farm points.
There's a training mode with shows you the basics then more advanced controls to the game and a practice mode where you can perfect your throws, curves, and drops against a wall that always returns your throws. This tool is useful to practice how each character feels and plays to best find the one that suits your personal play style. In time you'll most likely find that you're able to play each character well but we always have a favorite, right?
The game handles well, players use the left stick to move the character around on screen to aim a throw when you have the disc. Each character moves at a different speed so getting used to when you should move takes time. Thankfully the game is quite lenient with the movement controls so they feel very polished and clean. Your character will face whatever direction you pull the stick so you can find yourself facing away from an incoming disc, which will cause it to bounce off your head and unless you have a partner who is quick off the mark, will lose you points. Thankfully, being side on or forward facing as a disc comes at you will automatically catch it so there's no annoying catch mechanics, just run or dash into the disc then get ready to return!
You use X to throw the disc, Square to do a drop shot and by rotating the aiming stick you can curve throws or just aim them. Straight throws will travel until caught or will bounce off the sides of the court. By rotating the stick just before pressing X will curve the disc, the same effect can be achieved by using L2 and R2 but the shots will always be the standard level of curves. Using the stick you can get more extreme curves and certain characters like Makenna can unleash tricky curve shots that are difficult to catch. Pressing any throw button immediately as the disc enters your hands activated a "perfect throw" which is much faster than an average throw.
Tapping square without the disc in hand will do a slide which can be used to dash into a better position or to catch a fast moving disc. The slide can be incredibly useful if you find yourself out of position or if you want to celebrate scoring a point in a cool way, but taunts work just as well. Holding X without the disc raises a shield that you can use to deflect the disc, knocking it airborne. The shield makes you move very slow but can derail an opponent's flow. When a disc is airborne a marker appears on the ground, standing in the marker for long enough unleashes a Super-Throw, an incredibly hard to catch, fast moving throw that either moves at right angles, zig-zags or in a circular pattern. The skill level for deflecting shots and setting up a super-throw is quite difficult as the disc will deflect in the according direction it was traveling.
In doubles matches a quick tap of Circle when you have the disc will pass it to your teammate, this is noticeable by the trail of smoke on the disc. Using this to catch enemies out is incredibly fun. The passes are automatic so there is no chance of it missing which is a nice touch to the game and just adds to the pace.
The game plays very quickly, throws will come hard and fast and catching them and throwing them perfectly takes time and practice. This in turn, leads to frantic and chaotic matches which win or lose always feel like a good time.
One issue so far, but one that is to be expected, is the servers. They work perfectly 90% of the time and both players are on an even keel but if one person's connection drops a little it can be off-putting as the disc will pass through the catcher for a moment or will travel in a straight line for a foot or so before going in the thrown input direction. This, however, is a very uncommon occurrence and the game plays smooth more often than not. The game also has a minor issue of disconnecting from the online play when you return to the main menu after some games but you can easily reconnect again and jump back into the action.
If you're looking for a fun, easy to pick up, drop in-Drop out game to play alone or with friends, definitely give Disc Jam a shot. It has local multiplayer so 4 player couch play is totally an option or you can take your best-friend into doubles matches with two random opponents and seek world domination! The creators have confirmed new levels, characters and more will be made available and most, if not all of these things, will be 100% free. Disc Jam is an incredible, hilarious and good-hearted game that anyone can play and everyone will love.