If other games are about the destination, Dyad lives fully for the journey. You’re a particle in the Large Hadron Collider (y’know, the Higgs Boson guys?) and you need to accelerate. Difficulty is graded by power and as you start ramping up, the line between game and full-on interactive visualizer vaporizes. Those familiar with Mizuguchi’s REZ and Child of Eden will know instantly where this game lies. For others, it’s simply a trip you’ll have to take.
Playing like a high-tech version of Tempest, you guide your particle not through other particles, but past, requiring you (for the lower difficulties at least) to think more strategically about how and where you guide your particle. Using a hook to latch on to other particles strewn about the tunnel, you begin to build momentum. Once you’ve grazed enough of these particles in the mid-game, you gain a power meter to boost through scores of enemies and enact some of the psychedelica the game has in store. Dyad’s music is also hung on your actions in the game and while it’s not as structured as the Mizuguchi’s games, it allows for more diverse enactments that make you feel you’re bringing them to life, rather than as a result of hitting some arbitrary barrier. The early game has you doing simple things, like matching colored pairs of particles, but new gameplay elements are being introduced constantly. As you advance through the levels, you’ll find yourself playing a pretty different game than when you started. There are leaderboards and trophy-earning variations on each event along with tweakable ‘remix’ modes that allow you to change the experience even further, all of which ensure you’ll be going back through these stages constantly. Yeah, you could blow through all of what Dyad has to offer as a game in two or three hours, but that’s hardly the point.
Dyad biggest flaws have nothing to do with the game itself. At $15, the game is automatically going to be out of the interest of most gamers and out of the impulse buy range of those who are. Playing through each event, and being a merely decent gamer, I always chocked up positions between 200-400 on every leaderboard, which highlighted how few people were latching on. To that end, being a PSN-exclusive is sad. Dyad should be a ubiquitous experience. Dyad’s visuals are high-fidelity and it would be a shame to see them degraded in any way, but this would also be a fantastic tablet or Xbox 360 title as well. (Creator Shawn McGrath let me know it’s a six month exclusive, but wouldn’t divulge new platforms.)
Dyad is probably the perfect arcade game, the game we’ve longed for in the absence of Geometry Wars. It offers pocket-sized fun for you to
trip out on enjoy over and over again in quick succession. If you’re able to bite down, you should.