Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Polynomial Review

The polynomial is nominally a free-form space combat game. That in and of itself isn't very interesting, but the polynomial animates mathematically to music, everything from the donuts and waves of lights you can see in this picture to complete fractals in other levels. It comes with it's own electronic tunes that range from mellow space-ey feeling to more of a danceable beat. It's incredibly easy to add in your own music as well. Which leads us to.....

...the games menu. You can click on the sound and music tab and drag as many songs as you want into the game, click em on and then play to your own music. Some music works better than others, though. Typical pop or rock music is neat once or twice, but they quickly dull as they are so incredibly predictable. The game was definitely made to be played to either soundscape type music (think delerium or enigma) or to danceable beats. Surprisingly, metal plays incredibly well in this game, especially if it slows down or speeds up a lot.

There are 38 premade levels that are solid and interesting, each with their own quirks. For example, one is a racetrack made of stars, another is a giant fractal christmas tree complete with snowflakes and ornaments. You can also open up a parameter menu from the games main menu and create your own. It's pretty complex, way above my level of mathematical understanding, that's for sure, but you can just poke around  and occasionally make some really awesome, saveable levels of your own.

So what do you do in this VERY pretty music-animated space art?

Well you're supposed to save these little guys. You just run into them and they'll give you a little hp and more power for your engines (so you can zoom around much faster). You gotta pick these up before...

...these guys eat them. They're called nomnoms. They're like updated chain comps minus the chain. That can shoot lasers out of their mouth. IN SPACCEEEEEE. Umm, yeah. So you shoot these guys with your own lasers and pick up the friendly aliens before they eat them, then you jump into a wormhole and go to the next level, trying to leave every level in a few minutes because the level will flood with nomnoms if you stay there for longer than a few minutes. If you do end up staying a while, you risk getting shot down by the nomnoms or clipping one with your ship, killing you which resets your score to 0.

Happily, they added in a feature to let you ressurect where you were killed instead of being sent back to the start space of the level, allowing you to basically just ignore the nomnoms and fly around if you so choose. When I played this game, that's what I found myself doing instead of trying to get a high score like I'm supposed to. The game is enchanting in it's own way and it can GREATLY amplify how enjoyable a song is.

I played this game with a lot of my own tunes and I have to say I had an almost religious experience playing Radiohead - Exit Music (for a film) on the branes level with light show 1 preset on. It amplified the song so incredibly and...well, just go play it with those settings and you'll see what I mean. It was absolutely incredible.

Cost: $10 dollars on Steam. Wait around for a while and you'll see that this game goes on sale periodically for $5 dollars, or sometimes only $2.

The Good: Very easy to just jump into, can go incredibly well with moody music or electronica in general, very customizable if you're into that kinda thing, extremely pretty.

The Bad: Not a lot of depth, I kept finding myself just flying around going ooo over the graphics instead of actually trying to play the game well. The controls take a little getting used to as well. Pop music and rock music are less than compelling when playing the game as well.

Overall Opinion: Not for everyone. I almost certainly wouldn't pay 10 dollars for the game now that I've played it. However, I got it for $2 dollars during a steam sale and I would def buy it for that. Actually, having played it, I would buy it for a few friends too at that price. It's a fun little game that doubles as a musical screensaver, if nothing else.