Polybius, is an extraordinary game based off a gaming urban legend. Back in the 80’s a game was supposedly released that was claimed to induce insomnia, amnesia and even hallucinations in those that played it. After a month, all arcade machines with this game disappeared leaving behind rumors of government experimentation and ‘men in black’ involvement. Although this story has always been debunked, so far as to be attributed to the imagination of internet users and now, in 2017 its the inspiration of Llamasoft’s newest release.
Although it’s based on the trauma inducing 80’s game, the 2017 version of the game has no apparent insomnia inducing effects. Thankfully. Although you HAVE to read the health warnings prior to playing, it doesn’t take too long and doesn’t affect gameplay. But due to the almost LSD inspired gameplay you can see why it needs the health warnings. But warning, this game is comically fun.
The game is very simple in reality, a basic journey game with shooting and racing elements (without actual racing). As you fly through levels of varying difficulty, colours and obstacles which add up to a dizzy, dazzling display of excitement. Blasting your way through pillars, barriers, bouncing spheres and odd-shaped enemies that shoot back at you, you’ll find it hard to stop playing, even a small amount of progression goes a long way in the later parts of the game. Although the game has racing elements, it also brings a lot of other elements from other games. The shooting aspect is reminiscent of Space Invaders or Centipede, the singular bullet shots can be upgraded with in-game power ups to create a devastating and powerful vessel to push through your trippy journey with some brilliant firepower. Bringing and combining elements from a hell of a lot of classic games makes an enjoyable playthrough as it pleases on multiple levels.
Speaking of multiple levels, Polybius has no real level structure. It’s a rogue like that manages to have a different outcome each time you traverse through the levels. Each level is completely different with different obstacles and enemies and will always surprise you when you least expect it. The game teases you in learning how to play in different situations. First you’re placed on a flat level with basic obstacles which you can easily blast through, but later you could be on the inside of a tunnel, with little room and almost too many obstacles. The shape of the level changes on each stage and the obstacles get more and more difficult, including barriers to jump otherwise injury ensues, barriers to show you which side of the level to stay on or things that just take a hell of a lot of shooting to puncture. Let’s hope you’re up for adapting your play style.
Although the influx of stimuli is almost insane to witness, this trance shooter delivers a fantastic balance of sensory goodness and epic stunts to create excitement but not frustration. Although you can rarely see what’s happening on the screen, it’s all part of the greater fun and the strong core gameplay is shown as you always know how to move forward. As mentioned earlier, the level structure is non apparent and it seems random as to what level you’ll play after. But this is part of the strong core mechanics, without realising the game will teach you how to deal will all the twists and turns that appear through this crazy adventure. Although clarity is not its strong point the game gives itself enough reason to play (flashing colours and great beats).
Polybius also has three different game modes that let’s you play in a different way to before. Classic; which allows you to restart from your best, YOLO!; which adds a difficulty by not increasing your shields at the end of each level and Pure; which is the fully rogue like version of the game meaning you always have to start from level one. Adding these more difficult mode of playing increases the length of time a person is likely to play.
In conclusion, although Polybius is a pretty straight forward game. The excessive psychedelic traits through the game are unlike anything played before and does make it feel reasonably addictive, because you don’t know what’s going on you’ll try to make sense of it all. Its soundtrack is upbeat and has a brilliant way of enhancing the visual effects that you’re seeing and creating a brilliant atmosphere of urgency and excitement that will make you want to,, play over and over again especially as the game is so simple to understand. And now with added PlayStation VR support, it’ll make you dizzy for days
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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