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Preview: Dyad


6:30 PM on 07.05.2011
Preview: Dyad photo



Dyad is a self-described "abstract racing game" in development for PlayStation Network.

Jonathan previously talked with creator Shawn McGrath about Dyad's inspirations, as well as the surprising reason why -- at least initially -- the game was made. Recently, I was able to play a handful of levels from this bizarre, beautiful, very promising title.

 

The existence of Dyad (and other games like it) is why I proudly spend so much of my gaming time on digital platforms, where riskier design is embraced. You never truly know quite what you're going to get, which is absolutely true of Dyad.

Yes, the "abstract racing" descriptor is accurate -- but not in the way I originally thought. Dyad has a bit of puzzle in its blood as well. The build I got to play was made up of earlier levels, so there was much in the way of gradually expanding upon the mechanics. Starting out simply enough, you are told to hook all enemies before they pass by as you fly through a tube ... thing. To hook, you hit the X button while directly in front of an enemy, assuming you're within reach. Doing so adds to your momentum.

A combo system is then introduced; hooking two like-colored enemies keeps your multiplier going. Each successful hook gives you a decent boost in speed, meaning the better you are at Dyad, the more intense it gets. You're trying to latch onto the very things you are also supposed to avoid, after all. While I don't think you can necessarily "play it wrong," you won't get the full experience until you've had some practice.

Next, oncoming fire is introduced, and you're also told to avoid hooking certain enemies that are differentiated by color. Now things are starting to get slightly more out of control. Skip ahead, and grazing circles are brought into the fold. Upon hooking an enemy, a circle will appear around it. Naturally, you need to maneuver through this circle without hitting the enemy. Easier said than done, especially once you're moving at breakneck speeds.

Up to this point, I was having a rather good time. But it wasn't until the lancing mechanic that I became wholly sold on Dyad as a concept. By grazing enemies, you build up energy which can then be used to charge your character forward, lancing foes in your path. Every connection made during this brief amount of time earns you extra spendable energy. Imagine, then, how crazy a perfect run of a level might look.

This game isn't so much about sheer memorization as it is about being able to correctly act on impulses. Tense stuff once you let the outside world slip past you. While it's technically possible to fail the game, perfection isn't demanded of you. Bronze, silver, and gold awards are what you're fighting for here.

Perhaps my favorite aspect is how the vibrant colors and sounds shift on a level-by-level basis. As we've come to expect from games like Dyad, seemingly every action you make results in dynamic noise of some kind that meshes with the music. Being asked to focus on specific, constantly changing tasks -- combined with varied audio-visual trips -- kept me longing to play more.

If you are known to become severely concentrated while playing visually overwhelming games, you had best put Dyad on your radar. It's got no firm release date at this point, with the development cycle taking a respectable "when it's done" approach.






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