Thursday, September 4, 2014

Duet Review

Note: this blog has been migrated to Medium, with the articles here available to preserve permalinks. Please see this post at https://medium.com/@ianrbuck/duet-review-cbd3dbab630#.uorfn4581

Duet is the best mobile game I have played since Super Hexagon, which is saying a lot. They both do everything a mobile game should do: simple controls, easy to pick up and put down quickly, and minimal graphics that still manage to be beautiful. Duet does a few more things to make it worthwhile to continue playing, and because of that I believe it is a better game.

In Duet you control the rotation of two spheres: holding down on the right rotates them clockwise, holding down on the left rotates them counterclockwise. The only task the game gives you is to avoid the white obstacles as they fall from the top of the screen. It is much easier to understand if you see it in action, so here is their trailer.

Unlike Super Hexagon, which procedurally generates its obstacles from a set of patterns, each level level in Duet is the same each time you play it. If you hit an obstacle, the sphere that hit bursts and splatters on the obstacle. The game then rewinds to the beginning of the level, and you try again. The splatter stays there, reminding you of your past failure. Once you have completed a level there is a brief pause and the next level begins.
The levels are grouped into chapters, each with a title named after a stage of grief. The beginning of each level has a short quote pertaining to the chapter you are in, and it paints a strange story as you play. Each chapter is based around a new type of challenge. They start off simple and then start combining what you learned in past chapters with what you know now. The pace at which they introduce new elements is challenging, but reasonable. I would sometimes hit a level that seemed insurmountable, but determination and perseverance have won out in the end every time.

The game rewards you with achievements for each chapter you complete. More challenging achievements exist for things like completing a chapter without hitting a single obstacle. You can also comprehensively compare how well you have done to how well your friends have done.

If the story mode were all there was to the game, it would be short. But there is also an epilogue, several challenge levels, an endless mode, and a daily challenge. I have beaten just over half of the static levels in the game. Even after I have mastered all them the endless mode and the daily challenges will keep me coming back for a long time yet. I would be ten times as motivated to push myself if some of my friends on Android picked up the game and gave me some scores to beat.

The premium version of the game costs $3, but you can play the game for free with ads I believe. I got the premium version in a Humble Bundle, so I never played the free version. I certainly think that it is worth a few dollars, but feel free to check it out for yourself before putting your money on the table. It is available on Android, iOS, and soon it will be on Steam so I will be able to crush all my PC friends on the leaderboards.