Releasing a competitive arcade multiplayer game when the likes of Laser League and Rocket League are dominating the market, is a very bold and brave thing to do for a developer of any caliber. Disco Dodgeball Remix seemingly attempts to tap into that stronghold and despite its valiant effort, ends up being little more than a forgettable “once and done” sort of experience. The premise is solid, I mean, who never loved a good game of dodgeball? It’s tense, fast paced and thoroughly enjoyable, something this game fails to truly capture.
Players take on the role of a heavily-cosmetic customizable robot, played out in first person view. The aim of the game is to dash around a collection of neon-lit arenas picking up disco balls, to then throw them at the opposing team. These balls will be everywhere in sight and it merely takes the touch of a single button to pick one up and then again to throw it. It doesn’t matter where you hit your opponent or how much power you put behind your throw, if the ball so much as strokes a shoulder on its way by, they’re out for the count.
The same can be said about the player. If a ball grazes you on its thrown path, you’re a life down and will respawn back at the arena’s starting point. However, if you manage to capture a thrown ball, you’ll eliminate whoever threw it at you. The basic foundation seems very much welcoming at first glance and I’ll admit, I was very interested to give the game a spin. Sadly, on the other hand, this fun core aspect is wildly let down by its poor gameplay mechanics, dated visuals, horrific presentation and sluggish, somewhat stiff, control feedback.
Sure, there’s no shortage of color on display, the trailer and images alone showcase that to great effect. Playing the game, however, is headache inducing. The flashing lights and the wide use of different colors helps to implement some distinction, but the end result makes for one fugly looking game. There’s just far too much color and flashing being splashed together, that it makes it very hard to concentrate without being distracted by how heavy it can be on the eyes. I caution anyone who suffers with seizures to play carefully with this.
Playing split-screen multiplayer only further showcases how ugly the game looks, but given the rather empty online multiplayer player pool, I fear that this may be the only way to enjoy the game with other people before long. It doesn’t help matters that the character models remain far too basic, regardless as to how much they can be customized and changed up. Pimp your robot up all you like, it doesn’t matter whether you place some 3D glasses on them or a mustache, they’ll still look like Johnny 5’s minging half-baked relatives.
Hell, even the UI and its layout is reminiscent of something from the nineties. There’s just very little personality here that it makes it hard to take the game seriously at all, especially for a game that’s quite clearly attempting to stand in boots that are far too big. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the diverse arena selection and the deep robot customization, but none of that really amounts to much when the design itself goes on to burn your eyes at every blink. Simply put, the visuals here lack a great deal of polish and effort.
Moving onto the gameplay, I cant say I was quite as unimpressed as I was with the graphics, but that’s not to say that I have much positive to speak about. The controls are sluggish, mapped very awkwardly and are often imprecise. It makes even picking up a ball feel like an achievement in itself, let alone aiming it and throwing it at the opposing team. There’s a few power-ups on each arena and the ability to jump and boost, but in the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t really do much to bolster the stiff functionalities within.
After a lengthy wait, I did manage to jump into an online game with what seemed to be two bots and another real player. The experience was smooth and lag-free, coming grouped with some stat-tracking and a level-up system, though again, I cant see much motivation to return to this game to chase these systems up. There’s barely any depth to the fields of play outside of picking up ball and throwing it. That’s base limit of the game. What I will say in defense of the game is that there’s no shortage of options and parameters that players can utilize.
Rules, options and parameters can be adjusted quite deeply, right down to how each bot will function. It’s a solid system for sure, but hardly what one would describe as a saving grace. There’s also a wide selection of game modes to soak up and (attempt to) enjoy, which certainly makes the game worth its asking price as far as value-for-content is concerned. Though, between the poor visuals, the annoying soundtrack and the awkward controls, I doubt very much that this diversity will be anywhere near enough to maintain a player base.
The game comes with single-player and multiplayer modes. The core mode is, as described above, dodgeball. However, if you fancy something akin to king of the hill or racing-esque checkpoint chasing, Disco Dodgeball Remix has your back. There’s also a challenge list and some unlockables to chase after, lending the game even more content and longevity. It’s a shame that this game is so underdeveloped. Had it spent more time baking and less time rushing through the floodgates, we could have been looking at something special.
Disco Dodgeball Remix has a lot of potential, but is massively held back by its awkward sluggish controls, headache-inducing visuals, poor gameplay mechanics and puddle-deep functionality. There’s no denying that it has heaps of interesting and diverse modes on offer, though, this doesn’t really amount to anything when the core formula constantly fails on almost all fronts.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.