Dyson – I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.

Well I don’t know much about trees, or poems about them.  But there is a game written about a kind of tree called a Dyson tree.  Just what is a Dyson tree you ask?  Let’s call on our friend Wikipedia for an answer, shall we?  According to Wikipedia, “A Dyson tree is a hypothetical genetically-engineered plant, (perhaps resembling a tree) capable of growing in a comet, suggested by the physicist Freeman Dyson.”  Okay what does this have to do with games?  Well our next game is called, you guessed it, Dyson!


Dyson, the game, is a casual real time strategy.  The object is to conquer a part of space with your “space seeds”.  There are several asteroids that you must populate, but first you must discover them by directing some seeds to go to the undiscovered country, er I mean, asteroid.  (Get it?  Space? Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country? har har!)  All terrible puns aside, you start with one asteroid, then you have to plant some trees with the seeds.  You know I had to come to trees sooner or later right?  Each asteroid can have up to 5 trees, and there are two types of trees.  Defensive trees and Dyson trees.  Defensive trees release seeds that explode just in case an enemy tries to conquer one of your asteroids.  Dyson trees create regular seeds to conquer asteroids with.  Once you have the trees producing seeds you need to conquer all asteroids in a level, by sending seeds over to destroy the enemies then plant more trees.  Sound like Galcon anyone?


At first I thought the controls were complicated, but that’s only because of the abstract visuals (so named on the Dyson game site).  Once you start playing you can get the hang of it real quick.  Simply use the mouse by selecting a planet, and it’s stats are shown.  How many seedlings it has, how many trees out of 5 it has, and some other stats.  Really you should only be worried about how many seedlings and trees it has.  Once the trees are maxed out there’s a certain number of seeds that are released around that asteroid.  While it doesn’t seem to be larger than 32 (in the first level, which is the only one I played, an believe me that took a while) seedlings grown at a time, you can however move seedlings over to other asteroids.  The way to do this is to just hold down your left mouse button, drag from one asteroid to another.  It will send all of it’s seeds.  I don’t recommend you do this until you have several asteroids with plenty of backup seedlings.  You’ll see the range of the asteroid, that is how far you can send seeds to another asteroid, by a red circle around the asteroid.  You can also send one a smaller number of seedlings by right dragging.  Right dragging once just sends over one at a time, but if you right click the asteroid you’re sending from you can increase the number of seedlings by one.  Use this to replenish other asteroids that are low.


I have to say though the game play is almost identical to Galcon.  Except it doesn’t have any of the extra cool features that Galcon has, such as various game modes, mods, level editor, a mini-game, or multiplayer.  In fact it doesn’t look as pretty as Galcon either.  However what it lacks in aesthetics, it makes up in style.  Its graphics have this odd abstract look to them.  The seeds look like weird computer graphics things, well not weird as in bad weird as in bad weird, but interesting weird.  The asteroids are represented by circles.  The trees are just lines coming from the inside of the asteroid, with the seedlings hanging off of it.  Sounds and music, although pleasant, are sort of outer limits, 50’s sci-fi weird.  (Man there’s a lot of weird going on here, but don’t let that get you down.)


I have to say even though the game play is a lot like Galcon, it is pretty solid.  It was fun trying to conquer the whole board.  It was also calming.  Definitely casual, but not match-3 casual.  Actually pretty fun.  This is also an IGF finalist, so that says something.  Good value for the money, especially when it’s free!


Name: Dyson

Developer: Rudolf Kremers and Alex May, with music by Brian Grainger a.k.a. Milieu

Price: Free – Apparently it’s turned from a small free IGF finalist to a regular commercial launch called Eufloria! — if the latest version is anything like the old igf version it would probably be well worth the buy.

Final analysis: A solid casual strategy game.

Where you can get it: The Dyson game page.

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