Ahh the humble demo, how might I sing your praises? Clever temptress, designed to lay out the best faces of a game to trap the unwary gamer or terrifying windows into games that should never see the light of day? With no sure way to tell the difference, I wandered out into the internet one afternoon, looking for a new game, and played a lot of demos. Here they are as I found them: lets all point and stare!
Available on Steam for PC & Mac
I started my trip with a “3D spaceflight music game” because (A) I had no idea what that might mean and (B) the gameplay video was like going to a laser show in space.
Starting up the demo, you are presented with a number of options for customizing your spaceflight experience. Polynomial starts you off easy, with a choice of location, type of light show, difficulty level and the option to set your preferred key binds. From there your options ramp up into the weirdly specific very quickly. I was prompted to adjust the presets on a music visualizer, order my music play list*, adjust handling speeds, and customize fractal patterns.
Lacking good sense, I picked an arena from the list at random, jumped in, and got eaten by something that looked like a chain chomp in space. A Space Chomp.
Turns out the default first level gives you a breakdown of the things you’ll find in space, combat, and the game’s very informative Heads Up Display. I tried again. The gameplay trailer does not lie. The Polynomial really is like going to a laser show in space to a soundtrack of techno space music, only you get to shoot space chomps and fly through space flowers for health and bonuses.
The HUD for this game was, for me, well balanced. All the information I needed was available on-screen without cluttering up the valuable real estate at the center. Polynomial even provides a mini map of the arena in 3D which moves with you as you pitch and roll across the starscape. Enemies and bonuses appear as targeting rings around the edges of the screen based on their position relative to yours and the score counter takes up the upper left corner. The score box is cumulative and tracks everything from kills to deaths including friendly fire. The evidence suggests I’m not very good at saving space flowers. For the demo, every game is a new game so scores will tend to be low, in the full version save games become possible, so you can track your progress over the long term.
I still have no idea what this game is about, or who it’s for, but I hope that person exists. In conclusion, on a scale of ‘Die in a Fire’ to ‘Delicious Pie’ I give The Polynomial a solid ‘Maybe, if it’s Your Thing’ which I have expressed on this handy set of dials!
* In the demo you cannot add your own music to the playlist but the full version of the game offers this functionality.