Disorder Review

Depression; mental illness; loss of a loved one. That’s rough stuff. Makes it hard to knock down a game that tackles such heavy subject matter… says somebody else who isn’t me.

*Winky face with a thumbs-up hand next to it*

Now hold on. I’m not trying to say I’m heartless or insensitive or that I take some kind of pleasure in trivializing the obstacles people face in their lives. I’d have loved it if the game made me feel sick, or sad, or something. It just turned out that this game is short, and simple, and kind of boring. And the writing never develops further than the lyrics to a Korn song. But believe it or not, I didn’t actually hate the game, so let’s get to the details.

Disorder describes itself as a puzzle plat-former, which is accurate enough. It is most definitely a plat-former. The platforms per stage in this game is ludicrously high, so be prepared to jump. However, the puzzle aspect is a bit lacking, as it almost exclusively relies on one gimmick. I think you know what it is so I’m not going to sa—SWITCHING BETWEEN DARK AND LIGHT WoRLDsssss. Whew… that was an interesting writing choice, but I’m sticking with it.

Now about the switching—you click a button to go back and forth between what I believe to represent a “hope” and a “despair” world in order to change the environment. In one world a platform might exist or not; move left or right; animate or halt. But the only consistent difference between the two worlds is that one is more orangey and the other purple-y. You can’t really know for sure what specific changes are going to take place without simply watching to see what happens. It leads to some moderately tricky situations at times, but you get tossed a check point after each and every obstacle, so don’t expect to have to build any Megaman muscle memory for this one.

Controls are easy to use. Something I found odd about the version I got was that when I turned on my Xbox controller it warned me that gamepads weren’t yet supported, yet I went on to use it perfectly. Guess they just forgot to remove the warning message. Anyhow, your character’s jumps are slow and easy to fine-tune in mid-air, so you won’t get any Mario anxiety when flying out onto a man-width block floating over an abyss. Other than the jumps, walking and crouching are your only tools. And they’re both just as slow and reliable.

As for the art style, Disorder sports a better-than-average 16-bit pixel job. The scenery could be quite pretty and interesting, but also left me wanting a bit more variety at times. And the music just sort of stands in the corner and gives a little nod if you acknowledge it, so don’t expect any crushing dirges or heart-wrenching violin ballads. Just a nod and a wave.

As for the narrative, expect to a see a lot of little scrawled sentences everywhere that essentially say “I’m so tormented!” over and over again. Like I said, I wanted to experience abstract despair in game form, but walking and jumping through a somewhat run-down platform world just didn’t hold up as a strong enough metaphor for grief for me. So much more could have been done to link individual memories of his brother to corresponding obstacles, which would have helped flush out the narrative a bit. But instead the only story that exists is “My brother is dead and I’m sad”.

For the price tag, Disorder is a very short game, and its gameplay and visuals are lacking in variety. That isn’t to say that the game is terrible. If you are in the mood for a quick plat-former that isn’t awfully demanding, it delivers well enough. And although my play-through came in under an hour and a half, there are various hidden routes and items to collect that I only scooped up a few of.