Dye is a platformer similar to classics such as Super Meat Boy and N+. Precise movements and inputs are needed in order to successfully weave between the myriad of obstacles thrown at you throughout the game. The story of Dye takes place in a colourful, charming and peaceful world where it is both vibrant and harmonious. The colour of the world is created and maintained by small cute beings known as pigments. However, the Necrolights dislike the colour and have sealed away all of the pigments, wiping away all the colours of the world leaving behind only black and white. It is now up to the main character, Hue, a lone pigment who survived being sealed away to rescue his friends, defeat the four Necrolights and to dye the world in colour again.
Upbeat Music: Dye’s music can be described as an electro soundtrack. All of the songs are extremely upbeat and fast paced to coincide with the quick gameplay which is experienced by the player. Dye is described as a “Twitch platformer” which requires extremely swift reflexes and movements throughout the levels. The music synergises with the gameplay by reflecting the nature of the game, the music pumps up the player and encourages them to continue after they die. Furthermore, when a level is replayed the song will change which freshens up the gameplay as you aren’t stuck listening to the same song looping endlessly. There are 18 tracks to enjoy listening to over the course of the game.
Unique Game Mechanics: Whilst the formulaic nature of Dye is generalised by simply collecting pigments and getting to the end of the level, the game freshens up the experience by introducing new gameplay mechanics throughout the game. The first world for example is very simple, most levels are linear in style requiring the player to simply move from point A to point B. As the player progresses, new mechanics such as horizontal or vertical auto-scrolling levels become a new feature. Levels will become less linear in nature often requiring players to go off the beaten path to locate out of the way pigments to collect. Latter worlds introduce new mechanics such as moving platforms, ice blocks which break when you are on fire, springs which allow you to jump extremely high and many more. The game starts very simple, but slowly introduces new mechanics, as well as new obstacles to overcome such as enemies which can freeze you. These are then combined together alongside mechanics previously introduced. The player must then combine all the skills they have learned to overcome the harder levels in the game, promoting the idea of learning the game and its rules to obtain favourable results during play.
Amount/Types of levels: Dye has 4 main worlds, each consisting of 9 “regular levels”, 4 challenge levels and 1 boss fight. Totalling 14 level per world and 56 levels across the game. As discussed, the main levels are the bread and butter of the game where you are introduced to both the main mechanics and new ones along the way. The “Challenge” levels are unique in the sense that they do not require the player to reach the exit to complete the level. They must instead collect 100 fragments of dust in the stage, with 20 dust giving the player a pigment. This changes the formulaic nature of the game which normally revolves around getting to the end whilst collecting pigments, now you must be as fast as possible before the timer runs out. These challenges are unlocked last, and thus all the basic mechanics introduced in the world will have been learnt by the player before they attempt any of the challenge levels. The final type of level are the Boss fight levels. These require the player to beat the Necrolight which resides in each of the worlds. These normally involve the player using the mechanics they’ve learned in each world to their advantage to beat the boss. What’s notable is that each boss is unique in the method you have to use to defeat them. For example, the first boss requires the player to move in a manner which causes the bosses to start hitting each other with their projectiles, the second boss requires the player to use the newly taught flame mechanic to melt ice blocks to lead the boss into a bottomless pit whereas the third is a survival fight in which the player must run away from the boss as long as possible. Whilst all of these bosses are categorised underneath the “Boss fight” category, each of them is unique. This is a definite upside of a platformer game which is extremely niche in regards to boss battles. A final addition which bolsters the amount of levels is the “Hard mode” feature which is available for 52 of the main levels, essentially doubling the amount of content in the game. The hard mode feature allows players to collect 5 more pigments in each level, whilst removing all checkpoints in the level and adding additional hazards to kill the player. Challenge levels now have a timer, turning what was once a “collect 100 fragments of dust” into a speedrun time trial in which the player must do it in a small time frame with little room for error. Not only does this addition add difficulty to the game, it adds additional content which prolongs the game’s life.
Lack of Plot: Dye unfortunately falls into category of having very little to no plot. This is a definite downside as the game starts off very strong. The first few minutes of the game builds the world as it introduces the motivations for the characters and what they do, as well as setting up the antagonists. After the main title sequence, the story is hardly touched upon again. Whilst this seems like a nit-pick for a twitch-platformer such as Dye, games such as Super Meat Boy which falls under the same category has shown evidence of being able to include a cohesive story through each world, which is something that Dye falls short on.
Dye is the prime example of how a precision platformer should be made. It has all the traits which make a great game, the controls are tight, there are an abundance of levels, the music inspires you to play more, and new mechanics are added as the player progresses to diversify the gaming experience. Like many platformers, the story is one of the lacking points but it barely detracts from the gaming experience. There are no other major downsides to Dye which can be discussed. Dye is definitely a game that should be tried out and the music is something which should be listened to due to its energising nature.
Dye was developed and published by Bat Country Games. It was released for Xbox One (reviewed) and PC on February 7th and 23rd 2018, respectively. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.