hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts


Review: Dyad

2:00 PM on 07.19.2012 // Allistair Pinsof

“[Dyad] is a racing game with some shooting elements, puzzle elements, and there’s like a meta-game on top of it that sort of comments on your state of mind when you get into the flow state of playing the game.”

That’s how Dyad’s creator Shawn McGrath explained the game to us at PAX East last year. I have a much simpler explanation:

Dyad is like Amplitude combined with Torus Trooper and sniffing bath salts. Like sniffing bath salts, I can’t outright recommend it but I can say it’s one hell of a time!

Dyad (PlayStation Network)
Developer: ][ Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Released: July 17, 2012
MSRP: $15 ($11.99 with a PlayStation Plus subscription)

The difficult thing with describing, assessing, and scoring Dyad is that it has few constants in its design. Each of the game’s 27 levels -- 26 of which have an entirely different trophy level -- has its own unique goal, visual style, and mechanics. Throughout all of them, you progress forward, move your squid-like avatar in a loop (think Gyruss or Amplitude), race toward a goal, and do it all to an eclectic electronic soundtrack.

The appeal of Dyad is in its trippy-ass-balls visuals and incredibly fast twitch-based gameplay. Unfortunately these two things have a way of nullifying the enjoyment of the other, at times. The intense gameplay will keep you far too busy to appreciate the visuals, while the visuals are far too busy for you to thoroughly enjoy the gameplay. Since the backdrops and enemy types change level-to-level, this isn’t always a major issue but it it is more often than not. The developer insists that this is a game that you play by feel, but a proper game feel will always be dependent on clear visual and audio cues which are far and few between in the psychedelic tunnels of Dyad.

On it's most basic level, Dyad centers on pairing enemies (orange or blue) by shooting them and grazing their center to fill your boost ability. Once you boost (read: Lance), you can tear right through enemies and go even faster. The game eventually introduces enemies that can stop your lance move and enemies that create a speed-up zone when linked with another. The rules of Dyad are constantly in flux, as is the music which reacts to your movement, speed, and performance. There are a couple sublime moments when the blurred action and high-tempo music created a surreal experience that I've only had with a couple games before.

If your only goal is to reach the game’s immense, brain-melting 27th stage, you won’t be too bothered by the confusing visuals. However, if you want to place high on the leaderboards, you’ll need luck and one hell of a sixth sense because these levels come at you fast. As for beating the trophy levels that unlock after you score a three-star rating on a level -- well, good luck! It can be done but coming to terms with the perplexing visuals, shifting mechanics, and lengthy stage explanations will take some time and dedication for most players. McGrath can blaze through these levels, but who knows a game better than its creator (especially on launch week)? You'll either get by on luck or by being a more patient, low-scoring player.

If one word describes Dyad it’s "exhausting." Keeping up with the ridiculous speed of the stages is exhausting. But, most of all, it’s exhausting to have to relearn how you play 27 times. Though Dyad’s main menu is slick, it’s in-game briefings are a mess. The enemy icons aren't accurate, the wall of text descriptions ruins the flow of the game, and there are rarely visual explanations of mechanics. Whether intentionally or not, Dyad is not a game eager to please players. It’s a game for survivalists wishing to prove something within the game’s ruthless tunnels.

However, each stage does have a remix mode that lets you alter the visuals and audio, all while playing the level without a fail state. It’s a nice addition that can produce some great eye-candy but it’s not likely to keep any sober bodies in front of the TV for long. The same can be said of Dyad as a whole. It’s a game made of gimmicks that can be enjoyed and mastered, but they are all just gimmicks in linear levels, at the end of the day. Though the game has latched onto the minds of some other reviewers, its hooks never quite got a grip on me. I couldn’t help but feel apathetic toward scoring high. I also couldn’t help but get angry at many levels that have enemies and mechanics that are as novel as they are frustrating.

Some of the game's levels do a great job of turning everything you learned so far on its head. One of the early trophy levels requires the player to link enemy pairs by their audio cues instead of visuals. It's incredibly tricky but has a unique thrill to it, once it sinks in. Most of the trophy levels are brutal and not very interesting. Some are just plain unfair. One starts the player off at maximum speed, tasked with dropping to a still state. You accomplish this by colliding with enemies, but it's all so random that you don't feel in control. It's just a matter of luck with a bit of skill involved. A good arcade game shouldn't be centered on luck.

Dyad is a simple game complicated by including a hundred simple ideas in the same package. It’s a packed closet full of items once individually wrapped but now they form an avalanche with you buried underneath it all. Some players may welcome the madness, but I couldn’t look past the game’s mixed messaging. On one hand, Dyad wants to be a classic arcade game where leaderboards occupy players’ minds. On the other, it wants to be an ambitious, navel-gazing experiment that culminates with a lengthy light show that makes the ending of Fez look like a Lite-Brite.

Dyad is an interesting drug but one that only gets you so high for so long. It’s side-effects and complications will get in the way of your mile-wide high, but, hey, everyone’s high is a bit different. Maybe you’ll enjoy it. Or maybe you’ll play Dyad for 20 minutes and jump off your roof, thinking you’re a dragon.

Regardless, Dyad is not substantial or well designed enough to occupy this body’s time once its effects wear off. The games's visuals that recall MTV's Amp are a treat and its manic gameplay is challenging, but these two elements never quite gel together. Also, it made me shit my bed last night. Thought you should know.



Dyad - Reviewed by Allistair Pinsof
Likable - That's a seven, which is actually a different number than five. It's more than ok. We like this game. I don't want to play it every day forever and ever, but it's definitely worth the time I invested in it, and I'll be picking it up again to relive the fun sometime down the line.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Allistair Pinsof,
 Follow Blog + disclosure DtoidAllistair

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

extatix avatarextatix
Spiel was mightily expensive. Holy shit... Good thing I didn't bring more money with me, too. Saw enough stuff I'd love to own.
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
In memory of Lesser Dog of the snow fields. 1 spaghetti = never forgetty
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
Trialling PS Now - review to come later - has reminded me of a piece of little-reported PS3 news. Owners of hacked PS3s could turn any PS2 game into a 'Classics' title and run them on a bog-standard PS3 with few issues.
nanashi avatarnanashi
Wanna ask a question for tomorrow's PStoid? You still have time! While you're at it don't forget to ask one for Riobux too!!
SkarKrow avatarSkarKrow
I caught a reflective mumbling about MGSV's open structure and how it doesn't sit well with me, to be published whenever I litter it with images.
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Welp, an article today got me thinking about this so without further ado, whats your favorite pokemon? This is mine:
Clarence Sheridan avatarClarence Sheridan
Winter is Coming and so is the new mobile game: “Frosty The Assassin” New Mobile Game coming soon... [img][/img]
SkarKrow avatarSkarKrow
I cast my little worm in to the pond for a topic to try to make a blog about today. I fish fish fish but nothing bites bites bites.
Perro avatarPerro
I cracked and bought Final Fantasy Dimensions on Android last night. Half off sounded like just the right price, though I wish this came out on 3DS or even the Vita but at least it gives me something to do on the porcelain throne!
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Coming soon in Mortal Kombat XXX DLC - HUMILITALITY [youtube][/youtube]
Robo Panda Z avatarRobo Panda Z
Those N64-era THQ wrestling games have actually held up really well over the years. Take that, nostalgia!
Halflocke avatarHalflocke
Underhero a 2d side scrolling rpg on indie gogo
extatix avatarextatix
Heading off to Spiel in a bit. A whole lot of games there, just of the cardboard variety. I love me some board games.
absolutfreak avatarabsolutfreak
Finally finished The Witcher 3. Definitely one of the best games I've played in my 30 years or so of gaming. Now onward to Ground Zeroes/Phantom Pain.
Nathan D avatarNathan D
*playing an old ps1 game* "START and SELECT don't bring the menu up?! WELL WHAT THE FU-oh, it's Triangle..."
TheDefenestrator avatarTheDefenestrator
If anyone's playing Marvel Puzzle Quest (any platform) you should join my Alliance, RedRightHand, and help me kick some Galactus butt for their second anniversary event. (Please?)
Shinta avatarShinta
MGS Online Day 3. I have 3 character up to level 10 now, one in each class. They're all pretty handy, but I do miss the scout's mark speed the most on other classes.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
The SW: Battlefront is pretty and has great sound design, but the gameplay is so shallow and has seemingly no depth! If the full game is like this I will be disappointed.
Torchman avatarTorchman
*looks at Amazon preorder* This one's for you Chib'
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Dear Playboy: Love your video game coverage, but how about you start making some topless unboxing videos? Seeing someone unwrap a copy of Call of Duty is boring. Seeing a topless Playmate unwrap a copy of anything is awesome!
more quickposts


destructoid's previous coverage:

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -