Polarity: Ultimate Edition expands upon the previous Polarity world for a new set of gamers by releasing on PS4 years after their initial 2014 PC release. With obvious roots in Portal, Q.U.B.E., and other chamber-puzzle format titles, Polarity: Ultimate Edition attempts to expand upon that particular niche in the Sci-meets-Puzzle genre, offering up Local Co-Op and Competitive multiplayer modes to coax players in. Released on May 30th, 2017, from Bluebutton Games, Polarity advertises the opportunity to “steal data, break into virtual vaults, and mark dark deals with the mysterious Linus Corporation.” But does it deliver on these lofty goals?
The storyline set-up is intriguing: Players are a data hacker mining for banking and corporate information, presumably to sell to the highest bidder – Linus Co. This translates into be teleported into a test chamber-oriented world, ruled by a basic color scheme – red, and blue. Your character switches between these two colors to navigate trap doors, laser barriers, to operate platforms, and then some, all for the sake of completing a puzzle and progressing through the next level. For example, in one level I had to switch to Red to run across a blue platform (because I couldn’t fall through the blue beams), jump and switch to Blue to pass through beams, then immediately revert to Red to land on another blue platform beyond. At times, I’d collect cubes associated with either the Red or the Blue mechanisms, carrying them with me, chucking them across distances, or launching them onto another platform I couldn’t reach. At times, these puzzles feel wholly satisfying and suitably challenging, forcing players to think regarding these primary hues rather than symbols. I even got to “hack” some codes to open doorways by highlighting the appropriate words in the jumbled, data-programming style text.
I was glad that there are ample checkpoints and no real penalties for dying in Polarity: Ultimate Edition because I certainly plummeted to my death more than a few times. This was partly because the sprint mechanic seemed a bit wonky; often, I’d have to move back and forth a few times before the sprint mode kicked in, which meant a few long jumps ended up falling terribly short since that extra speed boost didn’t properly engage. Given that there are 37 levels in Polarity, I expected the difficulty to climb over time, but the challenges didn’t seem to scale with my progression. Some puzzles were simply better than others, though I never encountered any that left me truly frustrated or clueless about how to defeat them. Within each level, there is also a glowing green orb of “data” that can be collected, and at times they were pronounced, but some levels had them hidden in very clever, fun ways.
One of the biggest draws to me about Polarity: Ultimate Edition was the ability to have a Multiplayer mode. And while I found advertisements that the Co-Op was available in Local-Only (or Share Play specifically) multiplayer, I was unable to configure my gameplay to allow for either couch Co-Op or a Share Play session. Given that I didn’t have any other friends with this title in their library, I was unable to confirm that online multiplayer does work, though I have seen at least one review that indicates it does.
The first-person shooter perspective isn’t anything new to this style of Action-Puzzle gameplay, but Polarity: Ultimate Edition doesn’t really gain anything from being view in the FPS perspective. I found the level design to be clean and fairly visually appealing, but also very simplistic; it certainly felt like playing a dated, somewhat updated version of an N64 or PS1 game. The puzzles are routinely satisfying, but also lackluster in other levels; ultimately, there’s very little replay value, even if you can manage to get the multiplayer mode to work successfully either as Local Co-Op or Online.
There’s no true progression in terms of abilities or special features, and the storyline was moderately cute but definitely nowhere near compelling enough to keep me playing for that aspect alone. The soundtrack and the graphics make for a polished, pleasant aesthetic, but once again, there’s nothing here to really sell the title or worth writing home about. Polarity: Ultimate Edition fails to shine or be memorable, and it feels far too much like a dated, watered-down version of other titles like Portal that did all of these things much better. Still, if you’re on the hunt for a somewhat challenging, puzzle-rich adventure, and the themes of data hacking and putting one over on corporations appeals to you, Polarity: Ultimate Edition isn’t a bad addition to your PS4 library!
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.