A demo for the eyes and ears.
10 years ago today, a small group of developers released something that was a bit of an oddity for PlayStation 3. It’s not a game as such, it’s more of an audio-visual experience. To celebrate .detuned‘s 10th anniversary, let’s take a retrospective look and see what it’s all about.
Developed by .theprodukkt, a subgroup of developers under the German umbrella demogroup Farbrausch, .detuned is somewhat of a cross between a bizarre screensaver and an interactive music visualiser.
The user is presented with a man wearing a suit sitting in a chair. However, he’s not at the office or somewhere prosaic, he’s on a planetoid in a turquoise universe with giant, floating cubes and dolphins orbiting around him. Oh, and the man’s not alone – he’s surrounded by glossy, stumpy beings. They all have cheeky smiles as if they can’t believe their luck. Yes, .detuned is quite surreal.
There are no objectives to this demo, although there are 17 modes to choose from. These will apply different effects to the man, causing him to transform and move in various ways and are adjustable by the user. Additional effects can also be controlled in real-time which include audio filters and animation scrubbing.
.detuned comes with a single default track, composed by demogroup member paniq. It’s a playful, electro beat featuring glitched vocals and complements the harmless and experimental mood of the demo.
Users are also able to load their own audio files from their PlayStation 3 console into .detuned with basic shuffle and repeat functions. This is perhaps one of the main appeals of the software – this feature effectively allows the user to customise the demo’s soundtrack.
Other than messing about with the man (for example, inflating his head like a balloon or making him dance in and around the chair), there’s not a lot else to do. After all, this is a tech demo. The developers implemented motion-sensing controls to allow for panning and tilting of the camera angle, while action buttons and triggers control different modes and effects – and that’s about it.
Experiencing this in 2019 very much feels like one is interacting with something from ten years ago, which in turn feels more like a throwback to something that would have been shown on music television in the early hours during the ’90s.
It didn’t take long to wonder if it was worth paying the small amount of money for this bite-sized experience. It’s a great snapshot of a bygone decade. Does that mean one would go recommending .detuned as a ‘must-play’? No, but it is worth experiencing, even if just for a few minutes.
That was a decision I made when I got the man prancing around to Norwegian drum and bass while his head was slowly distorting in a freaky, cartoonish way. Not your typical metric.
It’s a bit of a shame the demogroup didn’t take this experience of developing for Sony’s hardware and make a full game of some sort as a follow-up project, but perhaps they weren’t interested. As it stands, .detuned is short, simple, and unique. It’s something that belongs to a collector of oddities and deserves a try by those curious about experimental ideas. In aggregate it might not do much but it’s good for at least an inexpensive chuckle.