Dyad is a tunnel-racing/shooting/puzzle-solving game whose rules are constantly shifting. You’re always travelling through a tube, and "hooking" enemies, but each stage builds and uses the game’s mechanics in different ways. Because of this, I decided to describe five of the game’s 27 stages to provide a snapshot of the game.
Stage 1: Tune In
The first stage is slow and visually simple, designed to introduce you to Dyad’s hooking mechanics. It’s basically in place to teach you that X "hooks" your enemies and hooking enemies pulls you forward and increases your speed. This track is actually made up of three parts. The first introduces you to the hooking mechanics, the second one teaches you about pairs and throws some obstacles in the way, and the third adds colors to hooking enemies in pairs (hooking a pair of same-colored enemies will make you accelerate even faster). This stage also introduces the fact that the tubes you’re racing through are limited. You’re rewarded three stars if you complete the challenges the level tasks you with by the end of the track.
Getting the easy three stars in this stage unlocks the "Trophy" version of the stage, that requires 22 pairs of enemies to be hooked before the level is over while pressing the hook button a maximum of 30 times. Proper pair hooking required carefully darting in front of an enemy while being boosted forward by a successful pair hook. The closest I got to this goal was 21 pairs of enemies when the track would end, so I got annoyed and moved on. (That said, after I’d finished the game, I returned to complete the level and get the trophy.)
Stage 11: Observations on the Beautiful and the Sublime
This stage is basically a survival mission. You have a constantly depleting health bar and the goal is to race as far through the tube as you can, refilling your health by "lancing" enemies. A lance is basically a dash that speeds your strange octopus-like creature up and can destroy certain enemies. The lance is built up by grazing enemies after you’ve shot them and lasts longer with each enemy you impale. Added to the mix are Lance Extenders and Lance Blockers, enemies that do exactly what their names imply as you lance them.
At first the stage seems easy enough. Enemies are close enough together that it’s easy to build up your two lances and extend your health. There are also a number of Lance Extenders floating around, so you can basically just lance and spin around the tube with reckless abandon. As the stage grows more difficult though, enemies become spread further apart and your health starts dropping like a stone. The lower your health gets, the more manic the music becomes, constantly building into a blaring warning siren. The environment starts looking more erratic too, making it very hard to stay calm and line up lances that would fill up my health bar.
Unfortunately, I only got two stars on this level, despite travelling 8612.78m. I needed to travel 9000m to get three stars…
Stage 16: Miracles
This stage also revolves around lances, but this time the goal is to make the longest single lance possible. Building up more speed before a lance will also make it last longer.
This level is devoid of the helpful Lance Extenders of stage eleven, instead opting for Triads, enemies comprised of a central core and two orbiting nodes. Shooting the core will turn the Triads into ziplines, which will provide a speed boost as long as they are ridden, but hitting one of the orbiting balls will simply turn it into a node that can be grazed to fill the lance gauge.
This was not a good stage for me. Try as I might, I could never even reach two stars. I only barely squeaked past the 1-star requirement of a 175m. I was starting to get disheartened.
Stage 20: Winds of the Dawn That is My Crown
Quite possibly my favorite stage in the game, this is one of the simplest. This level is simply about racing through two sectors as quickly as possible. The level is filled with Lance Extenders, and also adds Chargers and Invincibility Shields into the mix. Chargers will rush at you after you hook them, leaving a zipline in their wake. Invincibility Shields act exactly as one would expect, lasting longer if you run into enemies with it active. The other enemies in this stage would also form ziplines if two of the same color were combined.
Combining these elements with some upbeat music created a level that’s a joy to speed through. You might lance through a shield while hooking everything you see with reckless abandon, which in turn creates ziplines, so you can keep your pace up when your betentacled creatureslows after its lance. It’s an incredible stage to play, and I was happy to see that I completed the stage almost ten full seconds more quickly than I needed to (1:30) in order to get three stars. It was a joyous rush of color and music, and I was shocked to find myself playing so accurately amidst all the chaos. (As I write this, I’m 18th on the global leaderboard and very proud of
Stage 23: I Really Missed Jack
This stage provides you with three lives and drops you into a constantly accelerating tube. The pace of the music matches the speed that you move, creating an interesting synaesthetic ebb and flow. While you’re supposed to survive as long as possible, a defensive tactic does not work here. You have to grab a shield and smash into enemies to slow yourself down to a controllable level.
Despite the fact that hooking enemies speeds you up further, it’s vital, because you need to build up energy to lance enemies for more life, and you can’t do that without hooking your opponents. The level turns into a balancing act. You grab a shield, lance through a few enemies to build up to an extra life and slow things down, then play keepaway until you grab another shield or build up another lance.
I managed to survive this ordeal for 6 minutes, placing me well into the three star mark, but eventually the damage I took outpaced the increasingly-demanding extra life requirements.
Food for Thought:
After clearing each stage, you can play a "remix" of it. You can customize the stage, inverting the colors, matching the speed of the music to the speed of your movement, or make the level infinite. I personally didn’t use this option very much, but I appreciated its inclusion.