Dyad – The PS3 Attitude Review
Many industry professionals have said that Dyad is a tricky game to describe, before simply going on to quote the developer’s description. On the contrary, I happen to think it’s easy to describe Dyad. The only problem is, will my description be easy to follow?
There are a few ways to describe it to someone who hasn’t played it. The following adjectives come to mind: crazy, psychedelic, transcendent and fast.
At its core, Dyad is a driving game. But it’s not just a racing game, because all of its stages have different objectives, varying the game type. On one early stage, your objective is to race through three sectors as fast as possible. It’s a standard time-trial race. The next stage asks you to “hook” as many enemy pairs as possible before losing all of your lives. This objective wouldn’t be lost in a basic shooter.
Like all good minigame collections, Dyad offers a progressive challenge to keep the gameplay fresh by regularly introducing new gameplay mechanics, occasionally too often. But the gameplay effectively has three layers laid on top of the driving game chassis.
Definition: 1. a dyad is something that consists of two elements or parts. 2. an operator that is a combination of two vectors.
HOW DO I PLAY THIS THING?
Hooking is one of these three layers. In Dyad, while traveling down the tube, you must hook enemies to go faster. They are not your traditional enemies, they are flashing dots of a variety of colours, like colorful stars.
They can be hooked in pairs. You hook them by aiming the wavering path, which lays in front of your character, at the enemy before pressing X to grapple forward. This increases your speed for a moment, but you can really raise the pace by hooking consecutive enemies. However, to go very fast, you need to master the graze and lance moves.
Grazing is literally grazing. A grazing circle appears after you hook an enemy, which looks a little like a banana protruding from the enemy’s sides. You then simply fly through this without hitting the enemy dot in the middle; this is you grazing past it and picking up energy. When, not if, you hit the inside, the game will rewind a second and you will get a time penalty or lose some health.
Once you’ve grazed past five or so enemies, you’ll have acquired enough energy to fill up the Lance Shot meter. You can only you take advantage of lancing when the meter is full. You just hit Square and you’ll propel forward at an even greater speed. Lancing is by far the hardest layer to master.
In many levels, your objective is to destroy a certain number of enemies to pass, and enemies can only be destroyed by lancing through them. In tougher levels, the challenge is to keep lancing forward by plowing through the Lance Extender. Adversely, objectives will alert you to various obstacles that will put a stop to your momentum.
WHERE TO GO FROM HERE?
Dyad features a menu system that’s actually reminiscent of Angry Birds. Every level is locked except the first, and every stage within each level is locked except the first. In addition, each stage has three game modes: Game, Trophy, and Remix.
You must obtain one or more stars in Game to unlock Remix, and you must obtain all three stars if you want to unlock Trophy.
The first five stages are there to familiarize you with the three basic gameplay mechanics, but the stage objectives progressively get tougher as you are introduced to even more unique mechanics.
Trophy mode offers a greater set of challenges than the standard Game mode, and the reward is (unsurprisingly) a collectible PSN trophy. You can unlock a Platinum trophy if you master all 26 Trophy stages. Trophy mode is hard, but the PSN trophies match the difficulty well; a bronze trophy stage is easier than a silver trophy stage, etc.
Remix mode is best described as the ultimate customizable practice mode. There are a number of toggles that turn off and on things like Infinite Play, Collisions, and even Relativistic Distortion.
NEW EYEBALLS PLEASE…
Dyad has a fairly steep learning curve. The multitude of layers and the speed in which you are introduced to new gameplay mechanics can make it sometimes overwhelming. But I always went back for more.
It was insane the sheer number of times I found myself replaying levels in an attempt to get more stars, just so I could unlock Trophy mode and pick up a trophy. But that’s the intention behind that UI: play the same stage over and over again to unlock a different version of the same stage, rinse and repeat and unlock until you hear the “ding”.
After one full playthrough, I went back to improve my high scores but I quickly learned that I wasn’t necessarily any better at the game than I was when I started. This is because the game evolves with each level and stage.
If you stick with Dyad for long enough to sample the first five gameplay mechanics, you’ll be hooked. It’s riddled with complexities, which makes it an amazing game. It doesn’t push the boundaries of the PS3’s architecture in any way or have a massive online multiplayer mode, but it does have heart and meaning. Many people considered Journey an emotional adventure and unlike your typical videogame. Well, Dyad is the Journey of tube racing games.
The way you barrel down a tube at blistering speeds, frantically surviving those close calls is one of the most exilerating experience. It reminds me of what I loved about Burnout Paradise.
THE MEANING OF DYAD
Playing Dyad had me thinking. I’m not sure if it was the calming music of the menus that reminded me of PixelJunk Eden or all that lancing, but I realized Dyad is like a playable particle accelerator. Given the numerous references to the field of physics scattered throughout the game, this may not be so far fetched.
Starting with the way the levels are titled on the main menu, five out of six of them have a tera-electronvolt value (TeV). The first level is 2.76 TeV, the second is 3.5 TeV, and so on up to the fifth level which is 14.0 TeV. This number has no real use in the game except for decoration.
Definition: an electronvolt is the amount of energy gained by the charge of a single electron moved across an electric potential difference of one volt.
There is one more level found on the main menu called “Eye of the Duck”. My buddy Google tells me that it’s likely an expression used by David Lynch. Mr. Lynch coined the phrase to correlate the significance of the perfect placement of a duck’s eye to the one scene of a movie that is the perfect center of it all. He called that scene the “eye of the duck.” Does Shawn McGrath, the game’s creator, think the final level is Dyad’s Eye of the Duck?