You can tell a lot about a game just from its title.
DYE is quite obviously a game about restoring colour to a bleak world, letting you take control of a delightful little character, Hue, to jump, wall jump and float your way to victory.
But with the simple change of one letter from the title, we find ourselves with the exact same game, but a whole different mindset. You see, DYE and DIE are two entirely different things.
Or are they? Because the play on words that Bat Country Games have decide to run with for their precision platformer is a good one. Although it won’t take you long to forget all about Hue and his quest for colour, instead seeing you focus on one thing and one thing alone. Dying. Dying a lot.
In fact, after initially hopping into the first of 56 levels, you’ll probably be dead within a couple of seconds, dropping Hue into a deadly pool of water and ending his little grey life. Respawning and starting again may well see the same outcome arise. But then gradually, as you start to get to grips with the brilliantly precious jumping mechanics that make up the DYE challenge, you’ll see some progress. You’ll start to work out the best route to the level end, and you’ll quite possibly pick up a number of colourful Pigments and help restore colour to this dull world.
And at the end of the day, that’s the idea behind DYE, as when the nefarious Necrolights stole all colour from Hue’s little world, the challenge to restore it again was set. And that’s how we’ve got ourselves in to this looping mess of death.
With the challenge spread over four pixelated worlds, it will be up to you to help Hue navigate his way through each devious stage, picking up enough Pigments in order to unlock the next and eventually make your way to each end of world boss. Where you’ll no doubt die some more. There is no doubt about that.
See, the challenge is high and the difficulty curve found in DYE is steep – very steep – and that may well put many off from giving this otherwise delightful, well created, platformer a go. With death highly possible with each and every jump you make, your journey will be a tough one and even with numerous checkpoints in place, grabbing those Pigments and making it through to the end portal is a big ask.
In fact, it’s such a big ask that it would be no surprise to see you racking up the Gamerscore and nabbing the death themed Achievements that DYE holds in a cinch. 1000 deaths is easily obtainable, and it is more likely that you’ll hear that ping than you will the glory of making your way to even the end of world 2. One look at the in-game leaderboards confirms this, with a measly number of players across the globe being anywhere near game, or even world hub, completion.
However, with a great little soundtrack accompanying you and Hue, and a respawn system that sees you back in the heat of the action a mere second after dying, those who like a decent challenge will be more than at home with DYE. As will speedrunners, as this is a game that has quite obviously been created for the thumbstick flicking, face button mashing speedrunning world. Everything you do in DYE is timed, and that will appeal to an awful lot of people. You know the types… the ones who were made, not born.
For a mere mortal like myself though? DYE is all a bit too tough for it to all come across with any proper enjoyment. Whilst I have been more than happy to battle my way through the first world, and the delights it brings – the ‘challenge’ levels are a huge hit with my sanity – just milliseconds into the next of the four main hubs, saw the full power of DYE hit home. Quite how anyone in their right mind would find time, inspiration or desire to tackle the hard modes that each stage also brings is way beyond me. I mean, there are enough spikes, rotating discs of death and more already in place in the normal offerings to bring enough gaming pain, that anything up and above that is quite frankly bordering on the silly.
But all that said, if you like a challenge, then you’ll like DYE. The jumping mechanics are spot on with just enough amount of ‘slide’ included, the pace of the action is pretty perfect and the variety in level types is good. It’s just a shame that it’s all a bit too hard for any casual gamer to even warrant a look.
DYE or DIE? Whatever it is, it’s a rock hard game that will keep you busy for many a week – but only if you like a challenge. If you don’t, then it’ll be best that you stay away.