“Dyad is an interactive mind altering substance absorbed through your thumbs, eyes and ears”.
At least, that’s what it says on the press release. The truth is that Dyad, a Playstation-exclusive downloadable title designed by Shawn McGrath (Shank & Fez), is a very tricky game to define. In all honesty, I’m not completely sure whether it’s an arcade shooter, artsy music game or something that defies genre all together. What I can tell you however, is that Dyad is one of the PlayStation Network’s best offerings of this year and for the small price of admission, it is more than deserving of your time.
Dyad is old-fashioned in that it’s set across stages – 26 in total. There’s no narrative here. The in-game menu is simplistic, designed to take you to these stages without providing any explanation to their meaning. Gameplay is what defines Dyad and thankfully it’s also where it shines.
In each stage you’ll hurl down a technicolor portal at magnificent speed, tasked with an objective laid out for you with a text description at the start of the challenge. These objectives including pairing same-coloured orbs, grappling on to orbs to increase your speed, dodging enemies and creating platforms to hurl yourself through the seemingly never-ending void as fast as possible.
All 26 stages offer something new completely. On many occasions, they introduce new features and eventually combine them in later levels to create something particularly tricky. You’ll be awarded either a rating out of three or a screen saying “failure” at the end of each stage, depending on your success, with a rating of any kind allowing you to progress and a perfect 3 out of 3 rating unlocking a bonus ‘trophy level’.
‘Trophy Levels’ are the main draw in Dyad, not because of the lure of earning a PlayStation Network trophy for completing them, but because they take the mechanics that were previously introduced in the core game and introduce a greater challenge to them. The 26 trophy levels add serious content to Dyad and whilst each level is short in length, these aren’t stages you’ll be beating first time.
Dyad presents itself sharply with smartly simplistic menus and a beautiful HD sheen on each captivatingly colourful level. This isn’t just a pretty game, it’s a down right gorgeous one. You’d do well not to be totally lost in its beauty after playing it for a while. Gameplay feels smooth and responsive, but the overall graphical presentation of Dyad really works in its favour.
Each time you interact with Dyad, whether you’re shooting two orbs in quick succession or speeding across a platform you just created, you are constantly making music as you go. The game has its core soundtrack, but the way you interact with things in Dyad to create your own little tunes as you play any given level is neat, allowing you to become truly immersed in the environment the game presents. Across the board, Dyad’s sound, graphics and gameplay are all strong and all present something unique.
This is far from a perfect game however. Sloppy level design sometimes means trophy levels can be exploited and I did also have to restart my PlayStation on a few occasions due to the game crashing; but Dyad resonated well with me as a whole and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it.
It’s funny that I played through Dyad and had a wonderful time of it too, despite its small gripes, without ever really understanding what was going on. This is a game that will completely immerse you if you allow it to. It’s a totally unique and exciting proposition and now it’s finally here I can gladly report that somehow it all fits together in to something that not only provides hours of care-free fun, but also expands the borders of our humble medium.
In music, Dyad is a set of two notes or pitches. In sociology, it’s a pairing of two, the smallest possible social group. But in video games, Dyad represents one movement. Digital platforms are changing games and Dyad is the latest title to fly the flag of revolution. Whilst the change it brings to the industry isn’t quite as significant as, say, thatgamecompany’s Journey, Dyad remains a breath of fresh air that thoroughly deserves your attention.