Ultra-Indie Spotlight Sunday: Disfigure

No story to relate here; in Disfigure you’re a guy in the dark with a gun. From the shadows emerge wave after wave of creepy crawlies, heebie-jeebies, and what appear to be gigantic mutant dust bunnies. All you have is the gun at your side, and thankfully, something like 90 different perks to turn your gun or knife into a machine of whirling death and destruction. But how long will that be enough to keep you alive? 

Conceptual Meta-Wank:

Seems like every day there’s a new and exciting (or not exciting) Vampire Survivors genre game being released. We appear to be in a ‘bullet heaven’ renaissance, and with it comes new and inventive ways to build upon the genre. Disfigure is the latest of these games that have caught my eye and is so incredible that it deserves its own Spotlight.

Disfigure is the first bullet heaven game that has given me genuine panic. Most of these titles are stressful at times, but this is the first I would consider true horror, rather than simply horror-themed. The key difference here is the darkness, hiding the critters until they’re all but upon you. It doesn’t matter how many zany effects your weapon has; you can blast enemies with bullets infused with lightning, fire, plasma, bleed, and more, but it seems to me that death is ever approaching. 

Non-Wanky Game Recap:

Disfigure is a top-down wave-based game. Shoot enemies as they approach, collect their little balls of experience they drop, and upgrade your character. There are two forms of illumination, one is a circle of light 360 degrees around you, and the other is a cone that flashes straight ahead. There is an auto-fire mode as is tradition with this genre, though you will still have to aim. Other than the handful of weapons you can purchase between runs, that’s about the extent of what this game has in store. 

What Works:

The light and darkness of Disfigure is what makes this game so incredible. The two choices of light—a small circle around you, or a cone in front leaving your sides in the dark—and the ability to swap between the two makes for some very high tension in the game. Taking a further look in one direction with the cone can only be taken sparingly, and having to imagine in your mind’s eye where the enemies are coming from a glance a few seconds past is all that can prepare you for the ever-increasing waves of enemies. 

What Doesn’t:

There are a few things that Disfigure could improve upon. For one, the cone of light starts out pretty limited, only a short distance further than the circle, making it none to useful in the early waves. Additionally, there are some objects not affected by the light, such as character bullets as well as enemy projectiles. These are the best means of sorta echolocating enemies, just keeping in mind where the player’s shots end and where the green enemy shots are originating from.

How To Fix It:

Maybe in Disfigure’s hard mode, the option could be added of ‘true dark’, where projectiles are completely invisible while not in the light. This could add some extra benefits to perks such as flame bullets, which could become tracer rounds. As for the light, I think lengthening it to the max distance from the get-go would make it as useful as the circle light, which also requires perks to make it larger. Of course, none of these are too important, since by level 10 you will be a cyclone of lightning, bullets, flashbang grenades, and more. 

Wanky Musings:

DOOM 3 might have been on to something. It’s pretty remarkable how simple lighting techniques can turn an action game into a horror experience. Disfigure isn’t doing anything particularly new with the genre of bullet heaven, but adding the element of darkness into gameplay (along with gigantic cockroaches as enemies) makes the gameplay experience one of deep dread. 

You can play Disfigure for free on Steam by clicking here