Created by the two-man studio Right Square Bracket Left Square Bracket, Dyad is one of those rare games whose genre escapes traditional definition. It's one part music game, one part puzzler, one part racer and one part arcade-styled shoot 'em up, together making for a game that is all parts crazy. Here's why-
The first thing that hits you about Dyad is the apparent simplicity of its design. After all, there's just a splash of colours, a single button to press and a few sparse rhythms to pay attention to. Be it the lucid instructions before the start of a level or the sheer arcade-style charm of its spartan opening menu, you wouldn't be the only one to assume this to be a mere couple of hours of gaming at best, what with the handful of levels the game offers.
Compound this with the very early in-game premise revolving around gaining momentum, and you couldn't be more wrong in your life. Sure, the basic idea revolves around moving yourself at faster speeds through a tunnel by latching or "hooking" onto an enemy and leapfrogging from one to the next, but delve a little deeper and you'll soon realise that there is so much more to it. You can graze enemies to build your lance meter and as soon as it is full, you can spear through entire rows of enemies at breakneck speed. If you mistakenly hit an obstacle, your timing gets affected and you're thrown back a little from the point you were hit.
It's just about at this point where the perceived veneer of Dyad being one of those arty-farty, experimental hipster-friendly titles like Flow, Flower or Journey magically disappears. In its place, you're left with an arcade experience that's as brutal as it can possibly get. Well, at least for the modern day gamer.
Wide range of beats including electronica and just primal bass
The core reason for this is how rewarding progression in this game is, or the lack thereof. Sure, you have 26 levels to blitz through, but that's just barely scratching the surface. Each level has a rating of one to three stars. Attaining a one star rank unlocks the next level for your perusal, but obtaining the maximum gives you the option to unlock a trophy for said level. After several gruelling attempts, a lot of shouting, cursing and perhaps destroying a controller or three, we're proud to report that the trophies for Dyad are an absolute bitch to unlock.
Oh, and that's not all. After you're done with a level, your performance is shown along with others on the leaderboards. In terms of killing productivity, this was the number one reason why this review ended up being submitted at the very last moment. You see, looking at the online leader boards compelled us to best our timings again and again and again in a futile-yet-engaging (and completely sadistic) attempt to top the list. It's this sort of thing that ensures that Dyad has more in common with the arcade games of the 70s and 80s than contemporary titles that try to wow you with pretty graphics and moving story lines. This is as game-like as a game can get. It's a pure, unadulterated experience that will have you hooked in no time.
Easy to get hooked
And you'll stay hooked, too. The reason being, Dyad's way of portraying failure, which is more comforting than most arcade titles that have a penchant of sadistically flinging "GAME OVER" screens in your face. Hitting enemies, bullets or other assorted menaces propels you backwards and ruins your timings. It's a more digestible form of punishment that makes the chase for a high score a lot more approachable. In terms of pacing, the levels are split into snackable two to eight minute segments that never grate on you.
Presentation-wise, you're met with an art style and direction that would best be described as trippy; it's an eclectic experience of light and sound. You're bombarded with a never-ending kaleidoscope of colour all rendered in glorious 1080p at 60 frames per second nonetheless. The term "sensory overload" would be an understatement. Which brings us to this note of caution: even if you do not have a history of seizures, you would do well to check out the demo before purchasing the game as it would possibly cause a substantial amount of trauma for those sensitive to excessive light, sound and colour. Those susceptible to motion sickness while playing FPS games would do well to try it out before buying too.
The music side of things is drop dead gorgeous. There's a wide range of beats, from pulsating electronica to primal bass. You end up contributing to the tunes due to the game requiring you to hook and lance to progress, causing specific notes to be played. Whether it has a chaotic, noisy effect or one that is completely pleasant depends solely on the listener.
A pure, unadulterated experience
Some might be put off by the developer's smugness, what with deliberately having the game clock in at 1337 MB (yes, true story); talking about how it had to be certified by the FDA, which, in this case, stands for Fun and Diversion Administration; or how Dyad looks like an experimental fluff interactive piece on the surface rather than a real game. But look past these "issues" and you'll be rewarded with an experience that will literally devour any bit of spare time you have. It's by far one of the most compelling and fun pieces of interactive entertainment (or games, as you kids call them) we've had the pleasure of engaging in this year.
Updated 22 May, 2013, 9:27 pm IST
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