Dystoria: The eighties continue to break the space-time continuum! The fashion for low-quality films of the era of Van Damme, Schwarzenegger and Stallone (which today is commonly called “cult”), which began with the release of Hotline Miami, managed to reach its peak, completely exhaust itself and stop developing in any way, while categorically refusing to go to rest. In this style, they continue to write music, make films (mostly short films) and make all kinds of games. The eighties are over, but still live in the hearts of millions.
Dystoria is just a representative of the “playing on nostalgia” genre, but they only imitate the past here exclusively stylistically: the atmosphere and the plot about physical immersion in virtual space were borrowed from the original Tron, and the musical accompaniment was borrowed from the extensive audio library of an average retrowaiver; Dystoria’s graphics are reminiscent of games from 2005, which is quite normal for a small indie project – the picture is not replete with any frills, but it does not cause rejection either. The required minimum has been met.
In terms of gameplay, the game is a kind of rethinking of the very good puzzle game Kula World, which, if anyone remembers, was released on the first PlayStation. Each level is an arena hovering in the air, on which all sorts of coins, improvements and keys necessary for passing further are scattered, which, of course, must be collected. Initially, the player is offered a choice of two aircraft, later you can upgrade them or buy new models. The main feature of these “airplanes” is that they, how would it be more correct to say … fly in a completely different way than we are used to. These devices do not move along six degrees of freedom, but only hover above the level surface, adjusting to any of its bends. It sounds tricky, so here’s an example for you: if you fly up to the edge of the arena, leading into the abyss, and continue moving, then your ship will not fall into the abyss, and “stick” to a vertical surface leading down. Thus, falling somewhere or crashing into something other than opponents will not work. All walls and ceilings can become floors, the player is free to go around the level from all sides, like a spider, and climb into the most inaccessible cracks.
To diversify the collection of cunningly hidden keys, simple puzzles and battles with enemies help. Both the first and the second are performed at a good level: the riddles do not drag out the passage for a long time, but can add a couple of minutes of concentrated thinking, and the action, made according to the unpretentious principle of “strafe and shoot”, does not get bored, and sometimes even able to please with good entertainment.
The problem with Dystoria is that it’s not fun to play at all. And everything seems to be done in good faith: the developers constantly indulge in new ships and weapons, periodically introduce variety into local puzzles, but – alas! Doesn’t cling. There is no zest in the game, something that could leave pleasant emotions and memories. This product looks more like a pen test or a thesis than something worth paying money for. The use of retro-aesthetics as an entourage does not add any pluses. Just take and “drive” a known style into the game will not work, you need to put your soul into it. And it is not seen here.
The main gameplay mechanics of Dystoria serves as an excellent metaphor for the game itself – it sticks too tightly to what has already been created, does not crash into anything and is not able to fall, but it does not have its own strength to push off and take off.