Dyad Review - It's Not the Tube Racer You Think it is
Thomas Arnold
July 18, 2012, 3:41 am
  • Dyad (biology), a pair of sister chromatids occurring in prophase I of meiosis; may also be used to describe protein morphology
  • Dyad (Greek philosophy), Greek philosophers' principle of "twoness" or "otherness"
  • Dyad (sociology), mostly refers to pairs of individuals such as couples, co-authors, twins, partners in crime
  • Dyad (gaming), a PSN game that involves matching pairs to race through psychedelic tunnels at breakneck speeds.

I tasted the colors, and they were excellent.

Dyad is one of those rare surprises in gaming that I didn’t know about until the last minute, despite being in development for four years. At E3, I heard it was an indie game being made primarily by one man, looked like a 3D Geometry Wars (although differed in gameplay) and was coming on PSN. After playing other heroically inspired indie efforts this generation, those facts were all I needed to know to play it upon release.

Dyad is different than pretty much anything else, but if I were to shoehorn games that it reminded me of, I would label it as ‘Rez-Zeruga” with partially the style of Rez, the speed and tubular nature of F-zero, and the color matching of Ikaruga.

The premise of Dyad is simple enough: zoom through a tube with trippy lighting all around you. The catch is that instead of having a gas button, you are constantly “hooking” enemies (game’s words, not mine!) to pull yourself forward faster. Then after hooking onto one colored point, you’ll want to pair it with a point of the same color, hence the name “Dyad.”  This will give you a boost and in later levels  create a “zip line” between them to ride and go faster. The most common goal for a level is to finish within a certain time, but other levels have challenges such as travel at least 10000m without dying.

There’s a lot of risk versus reward in Dyad, leaving a lot of potential to shave time off levels. Just as you get used to hooking particle enemies, the game makes you hook mine enemies that will explode and bounce you back a tick in a neat rewind effect. The trade-off is that grazing mine enemies will fill your energy, letting you “lance” forward in a burst of speed.  And that is just the beginning with more to come - just wait until you see Etchers and Chargers. You are effectively playing a game of chicken but in a zany light show, with superb dynamic music too might I add. Unlike in chicken however, no foes ever make any effort whatsoever to move out of your way.

The way the game “hooks” the player, well at least me, is through a three star rating system and leaderboards on each level. Going with the time example, you might get one star for finishing in 2 minutes, two stars in 1:45 and three in 1:30. You can move on with only one star but that leaves incentive to come back and try for more later. Dyad will even graph how you’re doing in each section of some of the longer levels, to show where you are doing well and where you might need improvement.

Before each level, Dyad is clever enough to have a quick summary screen with maybe two to four points or even a tip about what to do. This handy reminder kept any confusion at bay, especially as new gameplay elements appeared all the way UNTIL THE FINAL LEVELS. As a result, the potential gameplay combinations make almost all the levels individually unique in some way. Dyad is as hard as you want it to be in achieving stars, trophies, and leaderboard status. I’m sure a lot of the time-based levels with multiple enemy types will lend themselves well to play again and again while trying different tactics.

Admittedly, the levels are slightly too long for the “Just one more try” syndrome found in games like Geometry Wars, Super Meat Boy and Trials, but then again nothing about Dyad is frustratingly hard.

I found it refreshing to play an indie game that pushed the gaming space forward instead of going back and making a super deluxe version of an old retro game. Dyad may appear to be full-on sensory overload but does a fantastic job of keeping everything under control and making itself an easy to pick-up and play experience. It’s a perfect “snack” game that will ruin your disc-based dinner.

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Background Check: Thomas
Iím finding it easier to play through downloadable titles these days than epic stories. I've always liked unrealistic racing games.

Similar Experiences:
F-zero: Loved the tight controls, hated Master Mode.
Rez: Loved the experience, health system not so much
Ikaruga: Never really got into due to difficulty
Audiosurf: Liked but didnít get into.
Astrological sign: Gemini (Twin - see definition of Dyad)