Perhaps the greatest thing a video game can do for its player is take a completely non-transferable skill, and convince him/her that learning this specific skill is important to the detriment of all constructive behaviour. Mastering this specific task is more important than laundry, more important than the dishes you should be washing, the assignment you haven’t completed, the exam you should be studying for.
A strange beguiling technique: improving your ability to apply it across increasingly difficult challenges should feel like life or death. When you succeed it should feel like an industrial strength morphine drip fed into the fattest vein in your arm. When you fail it should feel like someone ripping short hairs from your nostrils. Painful, but not painful to the point where you would consider doing something more constructive. Nuh-uh.
That’s what Duet does. That’s what Duet is. Duet does what the best video games do. It introduces an abstract idea, a fabricated set of simple systems, then it gives you a set of meaningless obstacles to overcome using those systems. But somewhere — in-between those two ideas — a weird magic trick. I am finding it very difficult to stop playing Duet because playing Duet feels really, really good.
Imagine a game of DDR with no physical activity. Or human tetris without the humans. Now imagine a slick, accessible control system that allows you complete precise control on an iOS touchscreen. Imagine inventive challenges that force you to relearn and adapt on the fly; lessons and techniques you accumulate by osmosis. Imagine a game that makes your brain feel agile one second, but as fat and pointless as a lump of dead flesh in the next. That’s Duet.
Duet is the latest iOS game by Kumobious. Its previous game, Time Surfer, took the Tiny Wings formula as a foundation and blasted into the stratosphere a seamless time-bending mechanic. Duet is more stripped back and infinitely more original. More importantly, Duet is something new for you to learn.
Flip two dots in circular movements. Avoid differently shaped blocks as they hurtle towards you from different directions. The real genius of Duet is how rapidly it allows you to progress. How quickly it moves the player from clumsy oaf to sublime master. And, subsequently, how rapidly it takes you down a peg or two. Duet has the ability to continually ramp up difficulty, providing new ways to confuse you, new ways to bewilder you, new ways to frustrate you. Eventually you will learn. You will overcome. You will feel good.
You will practice and learn a skill so specific to Duet that, in quieter moments, you will ask yourself why you even bothered. The laundry will accumulate. The dishes will acquire a new layer of scum. You will procrastinate that assignment and enter exam rooms unprepared. You will, however, be an expert at rotating dots in two different directions and it will have been time well spent.