High Horse Entertainment is hard at work on a deep, yet accessible action-sports game. Disc Jam looks like the high octane love-child of air hockey and Captain America’s shield throwing escapades.
In solo or doubles matches, players occupy opposing sides of a net, much like they would in tennis or volleyball. It is then up to them to whirl the titular disc past the opposing team—points are earned, a small explosion occurs, fun is had by all.
Well, fun is mostly had by the winners, but High Horse has nailed elements of a justly addicting competitive game. Matches are just long enough to establish tension between competitors, and the low score threshold of each set manages to delude semi-atrocious players, like myself, into thinking they almost tasted sweet, sweet, victory.
But I did, I almost tasted it—I swear.
The mechanics of retrieving and throwing the disc are intuitive with a little bit of Captain America-esque magic making the shield, I mean disc, unpredictable.
Disc Jam has a little rhythm game DNA in it, too. When players catch or dive into the disc, they need to time their throw just right to get the maximum power. The real fun is in occasionally throwing your own rhythm off, to try and fool your opponent. Mind games are a plenty here, it’s great.
After spending a bit of time in the pre-alpha, which you can sign up for here, the game that emerged is strongly reminiscent of Mario Tennis, except with less blue shell cheesiness, and more honest competitive worth. New or less skilled players will surely score points, but it seems that the more dominant player will always win the match.
I should know, in the pre-alpha I became fixated on my randomly assigned online opponent. We became locked in a series of the most one-sided battles since the Harlem Globetrotters faced off against those other guys that always lose. It was embarrassing, shameful, I began to hypothesize the ways the game could be rigged against me…
But, I persevered. After 9 matches, I realized my skill had grown. Facing off against this worthy opponent had made me a worthy challenger. This tenth match would be mine!
Unfortunately, I didn’t win. But, I did WIN ONE SET AND VICTORY HAD NEVER TASTED SO DELICIOUS. You better believe I mashed the heck out of the taunt button after that win got put on the board.
In this semi, but not really, victorious stupor, I recalled last year’s competitive sports darling from another indie developer, Psyonix. Rocket League made competition accessible and fun. It was always easy to see why and how you lost, making learning and growing as a player that much more achievable. I find this to be the case with High Horse’s Disc Jam.
With the proper marketing, I think casual and competitive players alike will have fun competing against friends and random strangers, much like I did.
It’s worth noting that there are two playable characters in the pre-alpha, along with a handful of cosmetic customization options. The importance of these cannot be understated. Rocket League’s garage and car cosmetics feel like a progression system and allow the game to keep growing past launch. If When Disc Jam gets big, I would love to see guest characters and large assortments of cosmetic choices. At the moment, I feel a bit like a random gladiator. If High Horse gives me something to show off, and I think they will, I imagine players will be showing off their Disc Jam skills for a long time.
Disc Jam will be releasing simultaneously on PS4 and PC. Check out the trailer below, and remember that you can still sign-up for the pre-alpha here.