Disc Creatures could easily pass for a Game Boy Color game. That's definitely its goal. There are plenty of monster catching games inspired by Nintendo's Pokémon on PC (and plenty of Pokémon fan games, too), but few look this authentic to Pokémon circa 1998. It's pleasantly familiar, even to me—I never played Pokémon, but I get a quiet joy from booting up a lovingly made little PC game in 2019 and feeling like I've discovered a lost Game Boy game, devoted to a very particular look and type of design.
It helps that Disc Creatures seems like a compact, smart Pokémon clone. I've only played a little, but its biggest change is obvious just a few minutes in. Battles are 3v3 instead of 1v1, so the makeup of your team of disc creatures matters quite a bit. Creatures have natural elemental weaknesses, so learning which enemy to target with each of your own creatures quickly makes a difference. The ability system is straightforward: Disc creatures learn new skills as they evolve, and you can have four selected at any time. I immediately gravitated towards status ailments like knockdown or paralysis, but I could've gone with more buffs to strengthen my own team, too.
One gimmick I like is that every battle skill, even a basic attack, uses up a bit of energy, and in longer battles you'll have to spend a turn charging up to build that energy meter. But if a creature gets hit while it's charging, it takes critical damage. The same goes for your opponents, though, making each battle a guessing game as to when you can land (or avoid) a whopper.
The theme of Disc Creatures also feels like a fun throwback to late '90s tech. Instead of catching creatures in pokéballs and keeping them in your pocket like some kind of child sadist, you're using a chunky Game Boy-lookin' gadget to create digital replicas of them. You load those discs up at a chonky PC and then transfer their files to your DiscKid. This whole game is basically running around with a fancy Palm Pilot filled with digital animal warriors. I think that's more humane?
Despite Disc Creatures looking and feeling like a much smaller game than modern Pokémon, the Steam page says it has more than 200 creatures to collect across more than 20 hours, so it's hardly tiny. That honestly sounds like a great length. There's enough here for the battle strategy to get nice and deep, but you won't be grinding out monster levels and hunting for some rare grass type bastard for 150 hours.
The creatures themselves are charmingly nonsensical, as I'd expect from this kind of game. So far I've got a sorta-penguin in my squad, and I've gone up against a snaggletooth tomato and a hat with feet. I imagine it's only going to get weirder.
Some reviewers on Steam call out that Disc Creatures is actually most similar to the Dragon Quest Monsters series, because there's no evolving your creatures here, though of course they level up and earn new moves. Considering it's $15 on Steam (about the price of a Game Boy Color Pokémon game on Ebay, actually) and made by a single developer, that feels like a wise design choice. Maybe I'll be able to breed a couple hat creatures into a stovepipe.