You are the Dyad, racing down psychedelic wormholes that engulf the senses with their endless light shows and rousing music. As you grapple from enemy to enemy, dodging them as they try to stop you, your speed and score increase and you do your best to keep the baffling spectacle from ending.
That’s Dyad in a nutshell. This abstract racing game finds its home on the PlayStation 3, no stranger to unique experiences. Sony is known for giving out-of-the-ordinary games a chance on their marketplace, and Dyad is a welcomed addition to that crowd.
Although most people are instantly enthralled by Dyad‘s visual design, it’s the underlying mechanics that make this game a winner. This is one of the most hardcore, score-focused arcade games that I’ve played in a long time, and it does a tremendous job of hooking you into wanting to just play another round to knock your friend down the leaderboard.
Although the game might seem slightly abstract and complicated at first, its mechanics are pretty straightforward: you control a tentacled being (the Dyad, I suppose, although the name could also refer to the action or pairing the enemies, since in music a dyad is a set of two notes or pitches) that races down these techno wormholes and has the ability to hook pairs of enemies to give himself a speed boost. The game starts out simply enough, giving you an infinite race track and a limited amount of hooks, while tasking you with hooking enemies in pairs of the same color. Based on how well you perform, the game will reward you with a star ranking, one star being the lowest and three the highest. As you play, other mechanics are thrown your way, like red colored bullets that stop you in your tracks, new enemies, energy fields that power a beam-like attack and more.
The brilliance of Dyad is how it handles its various stages. Each one is tiered. See, after you beat the stage for the first time, usually an easy endeavor, you get into the meat and bones of the game. You’ll get to see your place in the leader board regarding that current level and also gain access to the maddening but oh so rewarding trophy levels. These aforementioned levels task you with what at first glance seems like an easy objective but prove to be a difficult test of your reflexes. You’ll spend most of your time obsessively playing a level over and over and over again, just so you can complete the trophy challenge and shave of seconds from your completion time to both raise your score and beat your friend.
The game achieves the perfect balance between setting up some simple mechanics and making it accessible to everyone and providing that extra layer of challenge to those who don’t care about destroying their productivity and only strive to prove their worth against their friends. You could as easily play this game in 5 minutes chunks as you could finding yourself staring into these mesmerizing wormholes for hours at a time.
I don’t think I would go as far as saying that Dyad‘s visual and audio presentation is relaxing to the senses.
On the contrary, the first time I played the game, I felt like I needed a few drops of Visine afterwards. The bigger the challenge is, the more intense the lightshow and music get. But after you get the hang of it, you’ll find the perfect balance between being concentrated on the task at hand, be it hooking enemies in a finite amount of time, and enjoying the visual spectacle being presented before your eyes. And for those that just want to find themselves entranced by the spectacle, Dyad‘s Remix Mode invites you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
All that said, Dyad does have it faults, as minute as they may be. Some of the objectives and time restrictions will prove to be more of an annoyance than an actual challenge, and you might find yourself tempted to throw your controller against the wall after numerous attempts at besting said challenge. Also, because the visual presentation can get so intense, it sometimes proves hard to keep track of what is happening on screen and what your objective is. And for a game as flashy as this, the menus seems somewhat bland and uninspired, although they work as intended and in a very fast fashion, getting out of the way promptly and leaving you to focus on what’s really important: the gameplay.
Dyad is an attack on the senses, and one that you’ll welcome with open arms. While at first glance it might resemble such titles as Rez or Tempest, Dyad creates enough wrinkles in the gameplay to stand proudly on its own, providing gamers out their with a true challenge that hasn’t been constantly present in games for a long while.
Thanks to ][ for providing the title for review.