Disc Jam Review: Come On And Slam

High Horse Entertainment
High Horse Entertainment /

Rocket League meets Windjammers in Disc Jam, a deceptively simple concept with gameplay depth creates a game with a high potential for mass appeal.

Developer: High Horse Entertainment

Publisher: High Horse Entertainment

Platform: PS4, PC (Version reviewed)

Release Date: March 7, 2017

It’s pretty safe to say we may be entering a renaissance of arcade sports games.

Of course, things are pretty different now than they were, say, 15 to 20 years ago. Instead of obscure takes on licensed sports (NBA Jam, NFL Blitz and EA’s Street games come to mind), now we get fictionalized, esports-ready titles based on simple concepts.

The newly-released Disc Jam is a great example of this, except it’s a bit more complex than it lets on. Just think about your basic Frisbee-based sport, combined with elements of tennis, volleyball, and air hockey.

Disc Jam
High Horse Entertainment /

Developed by a pair of industry vets with a background working on parts of Call of Duty and Guitar Hero, what started out as a netcode stress test turned into a full-on project. The end result is one of March’s free PlayStation Plus games on PS4, a launch similar to that of a game it’ll be heavily compared to; Rocket League.

Disc Jam is a deceptively simple and surprisingly deep experience that has a ceiling as high as its learning curve.


Aesthetically, Disc Jam is pretty pleasing. The game runs on the Unreal Engine, with a nice balance of dark shades and bright spots of neon that really pop off the screen. Bursts of light show up whenever a shield is used to stop the disc, or when the object is flying towards an opponent at a breakneck pace. It gives the game a nice flavor, and there are some nice detailed touches placed throughout.

An example of that detail can be found in the clay that the actual game part of Disc Jam is played on. Between running and sliding around on the surface can cause the white painted logos to turn into an orange tint, just like at tennis’s French Open. It may not be that big of a deal to some, but it’s something that can show off just how intense a match can get.

Disc Jam
High Horse Entertainment /

The red and blue neon scoreboard is essentially the only major part of the HUD seen in gameplay, which is nice. For a game like this, it’s important to have a good field of vision considering that a giant disc is hurling towards your in-game character. Speaking of which, the four models in this game are pretty distinct but don’t offer much in the way of customization.

Ranging a big muscly guy to what appears to be an actual ninja lady, they also contain different attributes such as speed and power. Unfortunately, those aren’t quantifiable, but it also leaves the window open for players to try them out to see what best suits their playstyle without worrying about an advanced metagame full of statistics.

That being said, there are some cosmetic upgrades that can be unlocked simply by playing the game and racking up some in-game currency. Costume skins, taunts, discs, user tags, and emblems are among these that are given out at random through a prize machine that looks like something you’d ask for a quarter for at the grocery store.

The game’s soundtrack features a mainly upbeat electronic style, which is to be expected with this sort of thing. That carries over into the actual games as well; at least for the first set. During the second and third sets, the tune changes to a mix of distorted guitars and a heavy metal beat, which actually aids in the urgency of either keeping the lead or crawling back into a match. Disc Jam‘s menus on the PC version also feature full visual, audio and input settings. On-board support for streaming sites Twitch and Beam are also here for those who like to show off their mad, disc-based skills to the world.

Disc Jam
High Horse Entertainment /


Here’s where the real meat and potatoes are at for Disc Jam. What’s a relatively simple concept (throw the disc where your opponent can’t catch it) turns out to have layers of depth that make it enjoyable and competitive.

If you’re on the PC, trust me when I say you want a controller with this game unless you’re extremely dexterous with a mouse and keyboard. With just a standard gamepad, the game really only takes four buttons to play, plus the left analog stick. Thankfully there’s a full basic and advanced tutorial that can be played at any time for those just learning the game or those who may need a refresher course. Those four buttons control the types of throws; whether they be straight, lobs or curved throws that can really throw off opponents.

Just throwing the disc toward your opponent isn’t enough, either. There’s a timing aspect that makes your throws go faster, and the direction the disc spins only takes a flick of the analog stick as soon as your type of throw is registered, with an exception to the curved throws (at least from what I can tell.)

Super throws can also be activated by either standing under a lob for a certain amount of time or by fully charging your shield (straight throw button while on defense). As of now, there are only three variants of the super throw, and they aren’t exclusive to each character; which is a bit of a shame considering that would have shown off a bit more personality for each of them.

Disc Jam
High Horse Entertainment /

Games are played in either singles or doubles mode in a best-of-three match. Each set goes to 50, which may sound daunting, but since the scoring is rally-based it actually makes things move at a quick pace.

Each time the disc is caught, no matter who catches it, a point is added to what can potentially be scored (found in the middle of the screen.) So you could be playing for the win as your opponent serves only to have them come back with a long rally and make it a close game late. It can make things pretty intense, especially in singles where the only thing stopping the disc is you.

I had no real issues with matchmaking on the single player front, but I’d strongly recommend finding a friend who has the game to play with in doubles. While the Rocket League-esque D-pad communication menu can help with talking trash, it was hard to tell my teammate which side to go on or whether or not I had a catch. Not only can you team with up a friend online, but local multiplayer is also supported so that your friends can come over to team up or play against you in singles. You’ll definitely want someone who wants to win just as badly as you do, though, even though there’s no ranked/competitive mode just yet.

The devs also mentioned on Reddit that Cross-Play between the PS4 and PC is “something they’re looking into,” but that it wasn’t planned for launch. There’s also the issue of the game having peer-to-peer matchmaking as opposed to dedicated servers; but given this is a two-man operation, at least it’s a bit understandable.

Disc Jam
High Horse Entertainment /

While not completely fleshed out just yet, Disc Jam provides enough fun and enjoyment with a simple concept for the asking price. In an arcade sports genre that’s continuing to evolve with more e-sports friendly titles, it could easily join the ranks of Rocket League as a popular game for streamers and potentially even cultivate a competitive scene. At the end of the day, that all comes down the community the game creates, especially early on in the release window. While being able to play against AI and a few other customization features would be appreciated, the team at High Horse seem committed to bringing more content for Disc Jam in the future.. High Horse Entertainment. . Disc Jam. 7.5

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