TD:DS provides fun and body parts all over your TV screen
If you are new to the XBox Live community, you might not know about Microsoft's "Dream, Build, Play" competition held in 2007. Entries from all over the world entered including the game on review right now. Ska Studio (who consists of just James Silva) developed this and was one of the winners in that years competition. Now it is out and I could not be happier with the release.
The game is unusual in the story, game design and development. Lets start off with the story.
This isn't the games strongest point but you will have enough stages in the story mode to keep you entertained. In the beginning, you start off seeing a comic strip explaining the story. All you know is you are an extraordinary, gothic like person who thought he would have been dead. People are after him so he needs to fight his way through and find his answers. The story is told in a comic like strip sometimes at the start of the level or before a big boss fight. To not ruin the game, 'the Dishwasher' gives details about how he works as a dishwasher, how his parents left him and his step-sister and his step-sister leaving for a better life (with an organization of cyborgs which we have no other information about outside from that). If you don't mind the weird twists and turns on this story, this part will not bother you.
The graphics are not 'eye opening' but fit with the story and idea the developer had. The game itself is playing as a comic book with black and white being the main colors through out the game. The design of the main character and enemies are interesting but also fit with the comic like feel. The game also entails grab animations for the final blow of certain enemies. The screen will tell you which one to perform (to gain extra items) but doing with attack, strong attack or grab could have a small pause as 'dishwasher' cuts off the enemies head or slices off his body. Those animations are repetitive but satisfying in the end.
The controls for the game are standard for a beat-em up but uses the right thumb stick in an interesting way. There is a normal attack (x), strong attack (y), grab (b) and jump (a). The right thumb stick helps you roll or warp around the area to dodge attacks or just get to an enemy easily. The roll and warp moves depend on which weapon you have equipped (the sword warps but other weapons allow you to roll). Your character also has 'magic' to cast by pressing the right bumper + (x, y, or b) with each one casting a different spell. The right button helps with fast weapon changes in battle (can only have two equipped at a time). The gamepad helps with choosing your two weapons before/after a battle and the left thumb stick will help you move around. Each attack mixed with a strong can lead to an air juggle or a way to knock your enemy far away so you can continue pounding on another enemy. The right thumb stick is an interesting feature as it can help with combos or strategies while in story/arcade/challenge mode. While playing story mode, you will see stores (which is in the form of a box robot thing) and you will find a guitar that Dishwasher can play to gain extra items. No real reason for why he would play a guitar but doing these solo's are just plain fun and add an extra bit of 'guitar hero' to all the murder going on.
The game options for single player usage are: story mode (goes through the story of Dishwasher), arcade mode (go through 50 different maps to see if you can score higher then the leaders online), challenge mode (like survivor mode with scoring and after you die, that is your score) and practice mode (you are in a room and just hack around the room). The multiplayer mode is just arcade mode but with two players instead of one. You can create a public/private room or join in someone's public/private room to begin the slashing and mayhem. Playing these modes individually can be fun but the co-op online mode is actually a blast but can make you confused since everything is moving so fast. Playing with friends, seeing who can score the most and beating the level on expert can be gratifying to all.
From dreaming up a video game to selling on XBL was probably 'make believe' for James Silva some time ago but it isn't today in 2009. The game isn't a 'must have' for XBL Gold Members but it is a game you should check out (demo) and buy (if you like). For 800 MS points, I'm not disappointed with the investment.