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Sony is putting some serious dedication into its upcoming PlayStation Network games.  Not only is it pushing for independent efforts, but it’s attempting to “stray from the norm” when it comes to providing unique content for its subscribers.  Among these games is Dyad, an effort from indie game developer Shawn McGrath.  What sounds like just another adventure game is anything but.  Dyad takes all the best elements from music/rhythm games and incorporates them into a fast-paced action affair — something that blends the tube-rotating antics of Tempest with the tone-connecting fury of AudioSurf.

dyad

In each stage of Dyad, your job is to interlink notes together by connecting with them on a circular track.  They differ in color, ranging from yellow to red and getting more intricate with each song.  The more successful links you have, the closer you come to meeting your objectives.  However, it’s not just smooth sailing to a bunch of pre-set tunes.  You’ll have challenges to overcome, as the tempo of each stage changes depending on the song playing in the background.  What’s more, you’ll have to watch out for enemies and incoming bullets, or you’ll lose your current link collection.  It’s really nuts in the later stages, but it ramps up fairly enough that you’ll never have to worry about overcoming the challenge.

Dyad’s gameplay carefully walks the line between music/rhythm composing and straight up action.  In fact, if we didn’t hear McGrath’s name mentioned during our presentation, we could’ve easily confused this as a project being done by Jeff Minter, the man behind the classic Tempest 2000.  It carries a familiar tone, one that has you reacting quickly to what’s happening on each grid while enjoying the visuals and the diversity of the soundtrack as it plays.  Finishing each track successfully opens up new ones, and soon you’re becoming a music dynamo, linking like a champ and shooting for the highest scores possible.

The presentation is probably one of the most original we’ve seen on the PSN to date.  The music in itself is awesome; it's the kind of soundtrack you could easily bop along to, even if you’re not playing the game.  And the way McGrath incorporates that into a visual euphoria of color and light is dazzling.  Even though the circular grid doesn’t change, the patterns do — quite creatively.  They keep you on your toes to avoid losing your links.  With up to 300 loops and scale notes available throughout each stage, your results could vary, depending on how well you play.  And that kind of freshness is definitely welcome on PSN.  (Or SEN, whatever you want to call it.)

With the likes of Rez, Everyday Shooter and others incorporating music into gameplay, it’s hard to find something with a meaningful hook all its own these days.  But we’re happy to report that McGrath’s Dyad is easily snuggling into this category, and leaves high hopes for the finished project.  We’ll let you know how this symphony plays out when the game releases later this season.

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Robert Workman
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