Duet – Review (iOS)

Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun

Not since Terry Cavanagh’s fiendishly difficult Super Hexagon has a game so vigorously tested our reactions, gaming skills, and patience. Kumobius’ latest titled, Duet, shares a number of similarities with Cavanagh’s rotate ’em up. In theory the game is simple; rotate the two interlinked circles whilst dodging oncoming obstacles. In reality, however, things are much trickier than they originally seem.

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How fitting it is that Duet’s opening act is entitled “Ignorance”, as sure enough we were able to grasp the controls and dodge our way past the first level, with little effort. No sooner had we begun that our progression came to a screeching halt, Duet lulls the player into a false sense of security with a deceptively easy opening level and then promptly ramps the difficulty up

Precise timing, and sharp turning become essential in order to maneuver past objects and through tight alleyways. Mis-timing a turn, or applying too much movement causes your little red and blue circles to slam into obstacles, exploding in a squishy puddle of “blood”.

The beauty of Duet lays in its simplicity. A small press of either side of your devices screen rotates the interlinked circles left and right. The controls are intuitive enough to allow anyone to instantly pick up and play, but require time and patience to master.

As the game progresses a number of curve-balls will be thrown your way. Just when you think you have the game licked, a new kind of obstacle will appear, prompting you to rethink your approach. Obstacles come in the form of squares and rectangles which can be stationary or moving. Progressing to the later parts of the game requires the player to understand how to precisely chain their movements together, in order to avoid different types of obstacles.

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Duet is broken up in to 9 different sections, cheerfully titled: ignorance, denial, anger, bargaining, guilt, depression, hope, acceptance, and transcendence; it truly is the feel-good hit that we have all been waiting for. Included in the package is an endless mode that continuously throws obstacles at the player, until they have no lives left; this mode is perfect for practicing your skills for the main game.

Each level has a set number of sections to navigate through. Thankfully, reaching the end of each section triggers a checkpoint, meaning that messing up won’t return the player to the start of the level – thankfully Kumobius have taken pity on us in that regard.

Visually the game is as simple as they come. A textured black and grey backdrop highlights the white obstacles that incessantly fall toward you. A splash of colour from your balls (grow up!) rounds off the visuals nicely. It’s an understated appearance; nice to look at but nothing special. The visual presentation is complimented by a suitably ambient electronic soundtrack.

The more we played Duet, the more we began to hate it. The more we hated it, the more we loved it. A strange paradox, indeed, but a justified one. The game’s brand of crushing difficulty will break the spirit of all but the most persistent of gamers. Repeatedly subjecting ourselves to the same levels over and over again made victory all the sweeter when it finally came. Make no mistake, Duet is not for the quick to anger. I think the late, great Chandler Bing said it best when he said “That’s the beauty of this game, it makes you want to kill yourself.”

Duet is available to buy from the AppStore