Eyes on Duet

Man, it’s been a while.  My apologies for that.  I’ve been finding myself pretty over-committed to a whole bunch of things lately, and I just haven’t had the time for this blog.  Which hurts me to say.  In my line of work, you learn to recognize “I don’t have time for this” as being, whether the person realizes it or not, code for “this is not a priority for me”.  Which hurts.  I love this blog, I love getting my thoughts out for the small group of people who enjoy reading all this, and I love the whole sharing of ideas thing on this corner of the internet.  But unfortunately, there’s a bunch of higher priorities in my life right now that have been taking up most of the time that I’d been using to create content here.

Not all of it, however, hence why I’m getting this piece off.  Next in the prestigious ‘Eyes on’ series.  But this is a special one.  This isn’t just a game I’ve been playing for entertainment.  This is a game I’ve been playing for my health.

Seriously, I’ve been prescribed video games by physical therapist as part of treating this weird medical thing I’ve been dealing with that’s thrown my life for a loop.  Specifically, I’m supposed to be spending some time with optokinetics, rebalance the whole visual-motion system.  However, optokinetic videos are boring as hell, so it’s been recommended I spend time with video games.  Not just any game though.  Need games where everything on the screen is constantly moving.  We want nothing to be visually stable.  Which is exactly what brought me to Duet.

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Duet is one of those games that is all centered around an incredibly simple premise.  You control two balls fixed to opposite sides of a circle’s border.  You can rotate them around the circle, but you can’t otherwise change their position on the screen or relative to each other.  Blocks fall down from the top of the screen, and you have to rotate the balls to avoid them.

And…. that’s it.  Post over.  See you guys next time.

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Okay, there’s a bit more to say than that.  The game’s pretty good, even with as simple a premise at that one, at really mixing up the challenges there.  It starts out really basic, to get you accustomed to it.  But then you get the blocks that rotate, and you have to match your rotation to theirs.  Or the blocks that switch sides as they’re coming down at you.  Or the blocks that change their pace as they’re coming down.  It’s actually a rather challenging experience.  It’s one that can drive you into a sort of zen mode, where you’re not so much thinking about what you’re doing, just purely reacting.  The game puts too much pressure on you to allow you to think too much, and thinking’s not typically that useful to you anyways.  Much like it is in life.  In any case, it quickly gets to be rather challenging, requiring snap decisions, perfect timing, and smooth movements to get through a given challenge successfully.  The purest form of what most would consider a skill-based game in all.

It’s really great at instilling a tactile sense into the game.  Fittingly enough given what I’ve been using it for, you can almost physically feel what’s going on.  It has a driving thumping soundtrack combined with a background that pulses along with it.  When you screw up, your ball hits a block with a solid pop, leaving a stain on it as the whole structure streams back upwards to start raining down on you again. It all injects a very real sense of energy into the proceedings, and really serves to elevate it above its base, simple concept.

And… that’s it.  For real, this time.  It’s an incredibly simple game at it’s core, so I can’t really wax on too long about it.  But hey, if you, like me, now need to play video games for your health, Duet could be a good, interesting way of getting you what you need.

6 responses to “Eyes on Duet

  1. Hey, it’s good to hear from you again! I really do like what creators have done with minimalistic approaches lately. Duet kind of reminds me of Bit.Trip Runner in that it comes across as an unconventional rhythm game that revolves around dodging obstacles without making a mistake. It sure seems to get complicated in later stages, though not in a way that ever betrays its simplistic premise.

    • Yeah! I’ll try not to wait two months before the next time I can get something going. And I think that’s a pretty apt comparison. Simple gameplay, simple challenges, complex implementation. Although I’ve only ever played a demo of Bit.Trip Runner, so I don’t know how far I can talk about it.

  2. Pingback: Things on the XIIIth: October 2019 – Livid Lightning

  3. Good to see you again!

    What a nifty game! I’ve been banging my head against the wall with The Impossible Game, which I do like, but duet seems less frustrating and more… well, to use your word, zen-like, even if it takes a bit of time to get used to. I’ll have to check it out.

    While I’m not glad to hear you have been having some medical stuff going on, it’s cool your therapist recommended gaming as part of treatment.

    That said, I hope everything starts clearing up for you soon.

    • Thanks! And yeah, I haven’t played the Impossible Game, but from what I know about it, I would bet that Duet is a gentler experience. The mechanics of it, you pick up surprisingly quickly. Not a whole lot of physics to learn here. Just a lot of application that’s really difficult.

      Yeah, it’s really neat! Video games as medical devices! I rather like seeing that, personally. In the time I’ve been dealing with this, we’ve also had backflips, disco balls, and trampolines as part of treatment as well.

      Bodies are weird, I’m coming to realize.

  4. Welcome back to the blogging world. I can relate to life limiting how much content one can write. Hope your ailment is doing better. It’s neat to see how video games can help, especially in this age were so many people think that the hobby offers no positives.

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