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Every now and then, there are games out there that you can not understand by seeing it in action before playing it for yourself. That is the case with Dyad, a Playstation Network exclusive game made by Shawn McGrath. Dyad is a tough game to describe at first glance, but it is a hybrid of many genres. The hybrid that makes sense though is a mix of racing, rhythm, shooting, and solving puzzles. All of those, however, form together to be an arcade-y, psychedelic, and unique experience that is unlike anything else out there today. There are the obvious comparisons to similar acid trips like Rez, WipeOut HD, and Child of Eden, but Dyad does not play like any of those games. Instead, Dyad is an acid trip that is both simple, yet challenging once you dive into the tougher levels.
Dyad starts out with a simple concept of pairing the same color of enemies multiple to transverse through a tube full of epileptic colors. The racing aspects come in when you have to pair them in quick fashion to rack up fast times for star rankings and high placings on the game’s leaderboards. As you progress through the game’s 26 levels, new gameplay mechanics get introduced at every level, but still retain the core point of pairing enemies. The lance is one of the more useful mechanics you’ll see for the rest of the game as it is a boost of sorts once you graze enough enemies, which you avoid them after trying to set up a pair to transverse gaining energy. The lance ability also introduces newer enemies to use to pair up and boost through such as extenders and blockers, which are self-explanatory with lancing. Zip lining then becomes another mechanic crucial to doing well in Dyad being an evolved form of pairing up enemies. Invincibility shields come in the mix at the later levels as well. While Dyad sticks to a core mechanic, newer mechanics do spice up the gameplay at every level as if they have their own personality.
What also spices up the gameplay in Dyad is the various goals you have to accomplish in these levels. These goals range from getting to the finish in a certain time for a three star ranking, lancing through a set of enemies as fast as possible, or staying invincible for a long time. After beating the normal levels, which does take about two or three hours, those same levels’ challenge a cranked up a bunch with their trophy versions. The trophy levels are where you earn the game’s trophies by just beating them. That seems easy right? Wrong because some of these trophy levels offer insane challenges will test your Dyad skills and even push you to the limits after failing numerous times. For the many, this is where the game truly begins and it is indeed become one of the hardest games you’ll try to beat this year. However, they can be daunting and turn off casual players and completionists that just want to 100% the game the easiest way possible. Some of the levels also become frustrating and a trial of error mentality kicks in especially after multiple failed attempts. I do appreciate the amount of challenge these levels provide giving them a new personality, but as of this review, then there is a problem with one of the trophy levels crashing my PS3. Hopefully this can be fixed in a future patch, but other than that, I had no problem with Dyad performance-wise till this last weekend. Despite the game’s short length, the extra trophy levels along with the remix levels, which I’ll mention in a bit, do give the game tons of replay value. If you end off beating just the normal levels in Dyad, then you’re missing the other half of the game where the game becomes more of its own and way more difficult.
Even with the epilepsy warnings once you boot up the game, Dyad looks amazing assuming you can deal with the Windows Media Player-like visualizer graphical style. You can tell it looks simple because of the core gameplay, but the colors are memorizing especially when you really go fast pairing enemies like crazy or lancing a long distance. Plus, all of this is done with no slowdown and the framerate being consistent at 60 frames per second. The levels can be remixed in a free form version where the visual and sound effects can be changed up to make them way different than their original incarnations. The music is also dictated by how well you’re transversing a level, which is why I mentioned it can be a rhythm game too. The electronic beats can go fast and frantic if you’re speeding through the tube and come to a complete stop if you’re hit by an enemy as a DJ-like rewind effect comes out.
If you’re into trippy games with unique visual styles assuming you’re okay with the epilepsy warnings, then Dyad is the perfect game for you. The game is indeed weird for the norm that we used to see at retailers such as the oversaturation of shooters, but this is something only meant for the downloadable space and $15 dollars is a pretty good deal for what the game offers. The normal levels be beaten pretty quickly in two to three hours, but the real game and challenge comes with the trophy levels, where it will take much more time to beat. The difficult challenge Dyad offers is rarely seen in games these days too, so it is refreshing to see a hard game like this push players to their limits. The remixed levels and competing for leaderboards also add in a ton of replay value as well. I also love how the game keeps itself fresh throughout all the levels with new gameplay mechanics and goals at every turn while retaining to a simple core concept of pairing up enemies. The developers also did an amazing job blending in the visuals and sounds as part of the gameplay experience as if it is a rhythm game, but Dyad to me is still a mix of a variety of genres. It may seem like it was designed for a specific audience that is into games with acid trips and epileptic colors, but Dyad is one acid trip definitely worth taking for anybody.