Dub Dash Review

Title   Dub Dash
Developer  Incodra
Publisher  Headup Games
Platform  Android, iOS, PC (reviewed)
Genre  Action, Indie, Racing
Release Date  Feb 16, 2016

It’s the little things in life that matter, according to some folk. Dub Dash is an interesting little game from Incodra, where you control a little wheel skirting through a track, avoiding obstacles in front of you. If you can get to the end of the stage, you’ll unlock the next level. If you crash and die, it’s back to the start for you. The premise isn’t exactly earth shattering but it does make an already tough game that little bit more interesting. Your only motivation is to complete the levels to unlock more levels.

The touch controls are, thankfully, very responsive, so no frustrating fails because your device didn’t register a hit. The basic controls involve a simple touch to jump or continuous hold in order to constantly jump or fly – sometimes the level transforms and you’ll end up doing all sorts of things, but best not to spoil one of the game’s better moments.

Much like games of the Super Meat Boy ilk, it’s all going to come down to whether or not you’ve got the required reaction time. You can’t blame the game, so it’s down to you and you alone. There is a practise mode that allows you to restart from certain checkpoints in the level. This is handy to learn the levels but you can’t unlock them this way, so you will need to complete them without aid in order to access more content. It’s a little frustrating, but the game doesn’t make any excuses for being tough.

It’s fun to play, generally speaking. There isn’t a whole lot to it and the main pull comes from the aesthetics, graphics and audio. The gameplay is fairly straightforward, and whether you’re rolling along as a wheel or gliding through the air as a spaceship, the risk is always the same – hit something and it’s back to the start. There are musical notes to collect on the way, and you’ve also got a daily challenge mode to keep you entertained.

Speaking of music, Dub Dash certainly has a unique sound going for it. It’s essentially dubstep music, which, if this selection is anything to go by, isn’t something I’ll be playing freely in my house. As far as mobile games go, it’s got some very decent audio that doesn’t run the risk of being tacked on or repetitive. As you may have guessed, it’s not really my cup of tea, and I can’t tell you if it’s good dubstep music but it certainly beats the usual mobile game fare.

The graphics are equally interesting – very vibrant and in your face. There are certainly plenty of colours on show and if I had to classify them with a volume level, as is the theme with Dub Dash,  I would say they are extremely loud. Do not play this game with a hangover – the audio and visuals will destroy what is left of your mind.

If that was all that Dub Dash consisted of then it would be a pretty simplistic game, getting an above average score for its use of sound and sparkly graphics. However, owing to the fact that this is a mobile phone game, we have the dreaded hurdle of how this particular game chooses to try and extract a few extra pennies from you.

The pay-to-play formula or inclusion of microtransactions is not a new feature, but is never generally a welcome one. It is something that we’ve become familiar with though, and familiarity breads contempt. In Dub Dash’s case, we have the option to pay £1.79 to remove adverts from the game altogether. These adverts tend to pop up frequently, and at random, so you might not see one for a couple of deaths and then the next death, level change, and loading screen might all be punctuated by an advert; it’s incredibly frustrating.

To combat this feature in most games, I switch off WiFi, accept I won’t be able to have any online benefits, and then carry on with me game. However, in this instance, the offline mode merely replaces the adverts with a large box that displays a message about ‘turning off adverts like this large box, in the main menu’. Yeah, they’re referring to paying to get rid of this pop-up box. Worse still, you can’t just click to skip it – it’s got a five-second countdown. Imagine if Super Meat Boy had a five second cooldown between each death, and then consider whether you would have enjoyed it as much because of it. There aren’t enough words to describe my irritation at waiting for this little box to disappear in order to get to what is frankly an alright game. It’s okay but it’s not great. If the game was the next Half-Life I’d be describing it as ‘a shame’ but instead it’s just hacking me off something chronic.

  • Good audio
  • Good graphics
  • Good challenge
  • Fucking paying to remove ads
  • Seriously imagine if I blocked out bits of this review and you had to pay to see the other bits?
  • Look, if you need to make money, just charge for the game. It's much less offensive.

This is certainly one of the harder ones I've had to score in recent times. Games are usually good, average of bad, with pros or cons to support whatever opinion you may have. Occasionally games come along that throw a curve ball because it isn't often a game will be great despite feature 'X' or flaw 'Y'. Usually the gripes and irks aren't major ones and if they are, then there is probably plenty more wrong with the product. In Dub Dash's case, you've got a solid little game that provides a rock hard challenge, which is then utterly ruined for folk refusing to pay to remove some adverts. It's just such a bitter pill to swallow - I won't and can't think of it as 'paying for the game' because that isn't what it's being marketed as. I would much rather the developers have faith in their product, to ask to pay the money for the game. That I could get on board with and that would be earning Dub Dash a better score than this.

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