Dissonance is a real-time strategy (RTS) Half Life 2 modification where the player must control a musical avatar in order to raise an army, dominate the airwaves, and conquer the other, lesser forms of music. Dissonance pits three specific musical genres against one another using the wealth of imagery associated with each of the genres. The player can take the reins of the Metal genre and its medieval barbarians, the Techno genre and its futuristic force of robots, or the Classical genre and its horde of magical creatures. Each faction in the game has a unique look, feel, and sound that culminate in the form of each faction’s avatar.
The gameplay of Dissonance consists of the player taking control of one of the faction’s avatars and using the power of their music in order to capture the hearts and ears of the planet. As the theme of Dissonance focuses on music, so does the gameplay. Musical notes, or “beats,” are the only resources in the game (though beats can be of different types, see Gameplay section). Each faction represents a specific genre of music, which actually serves as that faction’s soundtrack.
The battlefields in Dissonance each have a number of speaker towers that the factions fight to control. When captured, these towers generate beats for that faction’s soundtrack. By capturing towers and collecting beats, that genre’s music gets louder (literally) and stronger. Either the player can use the beats to summon a massive army to defeat his enemies or he can grab a stage and hold a killer concert to dominate the airwaves.
The Creation Song, once a unifying force in the Musical Realm, slowly died out over the centuries as the worlds it brought forth from the darkness began creating songs of their own. As the Creation Song died out, the peaceful musical realm became embroiled with conflict. The worlds, left on their own, sought to spread their musical influence to other worlds by force. The decades-long conflict razed countless worlds to the ground and left only three worlds victorious. The armies of Classical, Metal, and Techno have conquered the weaker worlds while growing their forces. Only one task remains, the complete annihilation of the two opposing factions. Launching offensives on one another’s worlds, they seek total supremacy through the airwaves and through destruction. To the victor goes the entirety of the musical realm and the ability to reform it in his or her own image.