Open your mind, open your eyes and open your wallet if you’re up for some psychedelic arcade weirdness. I’ve heard this one described as ‘Wipeout meets Rez‘, but from the gameplay videos I’ve seen, I’d say there’s a dash of Torus Trooper and maybe even some Space Giraffe in there. Dyad is a game by one-man-studio Shawn McGrath, and it looks utterly mental. Here’s the eye-watering trailer to get you in the mood.
Those who got to play an early version of the game at E3 this year report that it’s a solo racing arcade game, of sorts, with a focus on complex scoring systems, and a learning curve that the developer describes as meditative. Having lost myself to games like Space Giraffe in the past, with reality fading out, replaced by a haze of flashing colours and post-processing effects, I can get where the idea is coming from. Right now, though, all I know for sure is that it looks eye-searing (in a good way), and that I’m a sucker for this kind of thing, having grown up on a diet of Jeff Minter weirdness.
Dyad will be hitting PS3ss in just over a week via the Playstation Network store, although no price has been announced yet. Find out more, and marvel at the neon vector madness over on the official site here.
[Earlier this month, DIYGamer met with Shawn McGrath of ][ Games prior to the start of IndieCade to get an exclusive hands-on session with the PS3-bound Dyad--currently targeted for a release next Spring on the Playstation Network. Ken Ellis shares the experience of his lengthy playthrough of the game off of the notes I was able to jot down from Shawn, and his own thoughts. Filmmaker Kevin Harland was in tow as well to capture footage, and edit together a comprehensively concise gameplay video of the title's latest (and word is near-final) build.]
One time I saw a unicorn stab a clown on a rainbow while he was juggling jelly beans. Shawn Mcgrath’s tube shooter Dyad made that seem like a scene from Eraserhead. It’s that vibrant!
The tube shooter genre is an interesting beast to begin with, and Dyad takes it to vast new heights. Moving through each level as fast as possible is the basis of the game. How to do so changes each and every time you play, however, and new techniques learned are built upon in each subsequent level. At first you simply latch onto enemies up ahead and launch yourself off of (while still avoiding) them to progress. Eventually you learn that combo-ing off multiple enemies of the same color will increase your speed, and give you a boost to your Lance ability that makes you invincible against all enemies. Later enemies even create zip-lines behind them when latched onto that can increase your speed by riding. Don’t rely on the ability to practice each level to get better at it either. All levels are progressively generated, so each and every single time you play a level, it will be different.
Music is seemingly the key element of Dyad. While it is not a rhythm game, music is infused into every aspect of the game. Each level has its own song, and each enemy creates a unique note when it is latched onto. Lances used speed up the overall tempo of the music . Even the menu’s themselves are musically interactive! Menu screen music can be adjusted to play backwards, as well as, with or without bass and rhythm. An audiofile gamer would be out of their mind not to try out this game.
Do not think for a moment that this game is easy or a short play. Once you complete a level, an optional harder version is unlocked in which you can challenge yourself with tougher completion times and higher objectives to earn. This is also the point in the game where you can start to earn your trophies–and yes you WILL earn them. This game was not made with the lazy trophy earner in mind. Most are earned by beating a very hard time trial. What time trial? Why Shawn’s own personal best time.
He told us, with a devilish grin, that since the game is on the PS3 and will have online capabilities, whenever someone beats his time that NEW time might become the time to meet or beat. I personally think this would be a great idea. Dyad is already set up to create great meta-gaming in competition for the fan base, so adding this little bit of ownership and inter-player challenging could be something to take it all to the next level. Especially with the random nature of the game, personal times are going to be completely based on the player’s skill, instead of memorization.
The demo session ended up going a solid hour, as I made my way through most of the levels available on the standard difficulty in the near- finished build. Erik, who watched the session in full, had to be convinced he hadn’t taken LSD that night. We put together a video to summarize the whole experience of confusion, discovery, and even anxiousness brought about by the sights and sounds. Also included is Shawn, the combo-king, pushing the game to its extreme with a ridiculous combo string:
Dyad is adding more to its psychedelic tube racer, but it’s not going to be anything like Frequency. Says developer Shawn McGrath, “The music doesn’t dictate play, nor does it judge you. Dyad’s music is reactive, meaning it’s mixed dynamically on the fly, based on the current game state and how you’re interacting with it.”
Built more as an evolution on Rez and Everyday Shooter in terms of its music system, “Each time you play a level, the music is different — playing Dyad can be viewed as a ‘performance’ in a sense.” Furthermore, “Interactions do more than simply play a musical event in the key or pulse of the background music. Different interactions change the mix of loops, play new loops, stop loops, change effects and filter parameters, change the tempo of the music and much more.”
The result is a bit of ear and eye euphoria:
If the video seems a bit complex, McGrath says not to worry. The levels that lead up to it will thoroughly prepare players.
Of course, players have to wait a little while to build their Dyad-ic skills. McGrath commented in the blog that he’s aiming to release Dyad early in 2012, with a demo on or around the game’s launch. For now, interested gamers can download three Dyad tracks to hear what’s in store.