Game design is a delicate balance of enjoyment, and challenge, and there’s a connected duality between the two. Duet is a new iOS game from the makers of Time Surfer that revolves around moving two pieces together to dodge all kinds of obstacles. The game is designed with challenge in mind, but is accessible with a simple control scheme that relies on tapping either the left, or right side of the screen. You need to control a red, and blue orb that are connected to each other on a circle, and tapping either side of the screen spins the circle in the given direction. The circle rises automatically through a field of white blocks, and your goal is to position the red, and blue pieces so that they dodge every block. That’s really all there is to the game, but that task becomes extremely difficult through the game design.
The game is composed of a series of nine chapters that provide over 55 levels of increasing complexity. You will come across blocks that spin, slide, and are positioned just right to cause the most frustration. One mistake send you back to the beginning of a level, and the game becomes a matter of memorization, and repetition as you complete each sequence within a given level. The game style can be appealing depending on your interest, but for the most part you have to like banging your head against a brick wall. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as some players like that extremely difficult style, but it can be very off putting. The only time this style is negative is when the challenge isn’t just from the gameplay set-up, which sadly is the case in Duet. The control scheme just isn’t intuitive, because there’s no flow or connectivity between your actions, and what happens on screen.
The game relies on split second reaction, which requires the controls to be second nature where you don’t have to think, but just react. That is tough to do with the controls at odds with the way your mind works, and there are numerous times where you press the wrong direction by accident, and lose. The levels can be extremely frustrating when you make it through 75% of a challenging level only to press in the wrong direction, and go back to the beginning. You then have to play through the section you had such a tough time getting through just to reach the point that you lost. The game does have an alluring minimalistic design with a white and black world contrasted with your blue and red orbs. Also, the game keeps track of where you lose as the red and blue orbs explode like paint balls on the white blocks, and they stay there through numerous runs. The entire experience is reminiscent of Pivvot, but with a less player friendly set-up, and with much less variety.
Duet Game ($2.99, Universal) is only for you if you like being a glutton for punishment, as the game doesn’t walk that fine balance between challenge, and enjoyment. Instead it loses the enjoyment along the way making it one to spin past. If you’re interested in the style, be sure to download Pivvot ($2.99, Universal).