:Engrossing graphics and well-crafted music/sound effects, easy controls
:Moderately difficult and frustrating gameplay, possibly disorienting images and sound
Dyad is a game that shouldn’t just be played, but experienced.
Dyad is almost as difficult to describe as it is to review. The publisher will have you believe it is a puzzle arcade racer, but it’s also so much more than that. An art experiment comes to mind. A musical demonstration, as well. And definitely a psychedelic experience so overwhelming at times, it will have the average person wondering why there isn’t a rendition of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” playing at the start screen.
In short, Dyad is a sensory overload of discordant sound, pulsing music, chaotic visuals, and reflexive gameplay that overlap and combine in an exhaustive effort to fatigue and befuddle its player. In fact, its uncanny nature is so tangible that to liken it consuming drugs is almost mandatory.
No matter how complex and vague that description may seem, at its heart, Dyad’s gameplay is almost too simple. You start off as what can only be described as a squid-like sprite tasked with the ultimate goal of navigating enemy-infested courses as fast as possible, while also completing certain objectives. To do this, the player must learn three very important game mechanics: hooking, grazing, and lancing.
Hooking is essentially locking on to and grasping an enemy by pressing X. Not only will this cause the sprite to speed up, but hooking two or more enemies in a row of the same color will create a bridge that will catapult your squid buddy even further.
Next to be learned is grazing, which amounts to hooking an enemy and flying through its expanded width without colliding with its center. This grants the player power later employed during lancing.
When enough power is collected, lancing will become available (square button), which allows your vessel to plow through and destroy any enemies directly in your path. Those are the main mechanics, however, later on, in the last third of the game, invincibility shields will appear in the form of power-ups that will for a short period make you indestructible to any enemy displaying the same color as the shield.
As basic as a two-button system may sound, Dyad’s gameplay will challenge even the most seasoned gamer. While the controls are genuinely responsive, the game itself calls for quick reflexes and will often rely on the player’s reaction time. In that respect, Dyad can be brutally frustrating at times, especially for completionists who wish to platinum the game. Consisting of 27 levels in total (with a bonus infinite level unlocked upon completion), Dyad includes three separate modes for each of those levels.
The first is “story mode,” where despite having no story, is where the main meat of the game is located. Here the various controls are learned and objectives are met. A rank of one to three stars is given dependent upon how well the player has done. One star is needed to pass a level and progress to the following challenge. However, three stars are required to unlock the second mode, which, aptly titled “Trophy,” is the only place in the game where trophies are earned. The Trophy mode includes an even more difficult task to be accomplished, usually involving principles learned in the main level. The last mode is the least demanding, in that it is essentially a freeplay session in which the player can create his or her own level by including various visual and audio effects.
And that is where Dyad genuinely shines, not in its moderately difficult arcade-style gameplay, but with its audio and visual mastery. The game is gorgeous; a kaleidoscope of revolving and undulating colors vividly displayed at a possible 1080p resolution and is virtually seamless at a smooth 60 fps.
The originally composed soundtrack is equally good, ranging from club-style pulses to jungle drumbeats. The best thing about the music is its dynamic nature. There is no limit to its variability. Besides each level having its own track, the player also contributes to the music with his or her actions, mainly hooking and lancing, both of which cause certain notes to be played. Depending on the ears this can come across as noise or music, but the overall effect is an entrancing one that wholly compliments the often chaotic, but captivating images.
Unfortunately, this is where the game hits a possible snag for some consumers. While the warning screen at the beginning of the game does a good job at cautioning those who have a history of seizures, those players sensitive to motion-sickness may want to try out the demo before purchasing the game. Dyad’s swirling hues and revolving colors create a tunnel effect that coupled with a player-controlled camera and a discordant soundtrack may disorientate individuals susceptible to perceived motion. If that is the case, it is recommended that you stay clear of this game as the ultimate purpose of the clashing visuals and jarring music is to distract the player and dissuade him or her from reaching the goal.
Other than that Dyad is a delightful treat of a game that will dazzle the senses even as it works to discourage and overload them. If possible it should not be missed. Just remember to blink.
- Easy controls and gameplay mechanics.
- Great soundtrack
- Soothing visuals
- Visuals and music tend to get chaotic and jarring with increase in level difficulty and speed, which may cause discomfort and/or disorientation
- Quick reaction time and reflexes are needed; not recommended to those with cold or numb hands
- Moderately difficult level designs that may frustrating to players unused to arcade style games
Dyad is a game that must be seen in order to be believed. Whatever you might label it as, whether it be psychedelic experiment or pretentious indie art fluff, it cannot be denied that Dyad is an experience. One that should be given chance, if at all possible. Its masses of swirling and colliding colors and shapes blend beautifully with the eclectic and upbeat soundtrack. And the fact that gameplay is interactive with the music is a welcomed element to the overall experience. Lastly, its simple controls make it easy for anyone to pick it up and play.
However, as I detailed above, this game is not only potentially dangerous to those with a history of seizures, but may be uncomfortable to players who frequently experience motion sickness from playing games or watching movies. It also might disorientate individuals sensitive to an abundance of light, sound, and color. I would recommend trying the demo out if you fall into any of those categories.
This review was based on the PS3 version that was provided by the publisher.