Duet is a hypnotic rhythm game hiding in the shell of a simple-looking iOS title
You touch the right side of the screen to spin the circle clockwise. You touch the left side to spin counter-clockwise. You have to keep the red and blue orbs from touching any of the obstacles. This is the sum total of interaction you are given in Duet, the new game from Time Surfer developer Kumobius.
I first saw the game at PAX Australia, where it was being shown with a custom two-button controller, and it looked interesting, but that’s as far as my interest went.
It’s pretty crazy what a few months of polish can do for a game.
The final version of the game is still incredibly simple, but the movement of the obstacles combined with the animated backgrounds and the game’s music all come together to create something that’s captivating. The cost of failure is zero, and the right or left ball leaves a splash of paint on the obstacle you hit. The harder sections begin looking like the aftermath of a paintball battle, a testament to your failed attempts.
The levels become a delicate dance of spinning shapes and near misses. You’ll begin to understand the rhythm of movement, and how to see the patterns of movement that are hidden behind the obstacles. It felt much more like a rhythm game than an arcade title, and I found myself nodding my head as I played, keyed into the game’s sense of pace.
I've been stealing moments here and there throughout the day to play it, and each level is short enough that you can give it a go while you wait for your console game to load… or update. Duet proves that simple concepts can be turned into enjoyable games with the correct execution, and it's impressive how much the soundtrack helps to give the game a sense of tone and mood.