commonreason's Dyad (PlayStation Network (PS3)) review

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An Incredible Trip

Dyad is not your conventional game. It takes a lot of the best elements of games like Rez and Audiosurf, and makes them work in a way that I have not experienced in any other game like it. Especially coming from a development team of two people (with only one making the core gameplay). What makes Dyad work is that it is immersive enough to sit down for hours and play at a time, but also structured for quick pick up and play. Ultimately, this is a game about chasing leaderboard rankings. And what an amazing chase it is.

I often do not play games within this spectrum. I largely ignored the trend of music games that seemed to peak some years back. As a result of that, playing Dyad seems to be the culmination of all the best elements of those games, minus the glaring flaws and repetition. Dyad offers a unique experience beyond your traditional rhythm games in that the gameplay is dictated more by feel than by sight. It is mostly an interactive visualizer, complete with music paired to how one plays each level. After getting familiar with the pacing, it becomes easy to feel like you have a connection to your movement that not many other games can match. There has been no game recently that has made me feel so immersed in what I am doing. Everything surrounding my television just disappeared and I was placed in a trance, traveling down a wonderful tunnel of lights and sounds.

While the later levels offer blazing fast pace, I never got the feeling that I had lost control of what I was doing. The controls are very tight and responsive. Layering on the patterns from the previous levels to increase the speed only increased the immersive nature of these later challenges. This is all easily accomplished by this game having very clear and certain goals for each level. None too complex to forget, but difficult to master right off the bat.

The music is one of the best parts of the experience. I enjoy games that structure their music around the actions of the player. It becomes the best cue that you are doing things right and adds a new level of immersion that cannot be matched by a static or controlled score. Infamous is a great example of a game that does this well, layering additional audio levels on top of each other to create a massive sounding (and feeling) to the actions on screen. Like Infamous though, Dyad follows the player actions very closely. And while the pacing may seem chaotic, the pairing of audio and visual detail on screen helps to enforce and control the immersive rush of speed presented.

Dyad is an experience that is hard to explain to anyone that has not tried it themselves. From talking to many who have seen it through video or by way of watching another player experience it, most seem put off by the intense pace and visual stimulation. It is a game that really must be played and not only watched though. This is a game that focuses more on feeling what you are doing, and less on seeing. And by the time I reached the end of the last level, I walked away feeling that this was one of the most complete and immersive PSN titles to date.


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