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Disc Room is the ‘pizza Margherita’ of video games

Released Thursday on Nintendo Switch and Windows PC

Discs in the middle of a room Image: Kitty Calis, Jan Willem Nijman, Terri Vellmann, Doseone/Devolver Digital
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

At first glance, Disc Room appears to be super simple: a room, some discs, and a playable character to dart in and around those first two. But there’s so much more beyond that initial first glance. Somehow, these three ingredients work together in a way that creates a video game with a lot of depth.

“It’s room with saw blades,” Disc Room developer Jan Willem Nijman told Polygon. “Let’s see how far we can take it.”

Kitty Calis, also a Disc Room developer, laughed: “We often joke that we wanted to make a pizza Margherita video game — something that’s so simple.” And honestly, it’s a metaphor that works. (Though I’m not sure which ingredient — the basil, mozzarella, or sauce — is the deadly discs.)

Here’s the premise: Created by Calis, Nijman, Terri Vellmann, and Doseone, Disc Room is, essentially, what it says on the tin (or pizza box). There are rooms, and there are discs. But it’s more than just that, because there’s a story, too. It’s year 2089 and there’s a large disc in space, in Jupiter’s orbit. Your job — as Disc Room’s scientist — is to figure out what’s going down.

All of the enemies are sawblades, but there’s also necessary tools to move forward, which gives Disc Room a unique premise. You’ve got to embrace the blade (literally) if you’re going to defeat it. There are different objectives and puzzles within each room — a lot of which require players to die by a certain blade — that, when completed, open new doors. Nijman described the blades as having a Pokémon vibe: “You gotta catch ‘em all.”

However, it wasn’t always easy to convince players that death in Disc Room is a good thing. “Dying often means you did something wrong, or you’re not doing it right,” Calis said. “But dying really is the way forward in Disc Room.”

Partly, it makes the game more accessible, Nijman added. That’s because it looks like a really punishing game (and, well, sometimes it is). But sometimes you’ve just got to get punished by Disc Room. “Everyone’s good at losing, right?” Nijman asked. “That’s what you’re supposed to do here. It let us look at difficulty in a different way, where the difficulty in this game is also very layered.”

Accessibility options allow for players to customize that experience depending on how they’d like to play — there are options to slow the game down, but there are also options to make it ultra hard. (This is probably where the pizza Margherita metaphor dies.)

Disc Room was released on Oct. 22 for Nintendo Switch and Windows PC. The game, by the creators of Minit, is $14.99 on both platforms.

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