The Polynomial is a trippy and intriguing voyage through space.
Trying to figure out exactly what you’re meant to be doing in The Polynomial – Space of the Music is a game in itself. Set in a universe created based on whatever music is currently playing, you’re not given any real objective as such. It’s more a case of floating around, attacking anything that shoots in your direction, and exploring this weird, trippy world.
Being able to import your own music into the game and listen to custom playlists while you navigate the gorgeous environments is a great touch, and there are plenty of effects to mess around and sliders to experiment with. Unfortunately, the ‘make your own journey’ angle is a rather double-edged sword, as you’ll lost interest pretty quickly when you feel that you’ve seen everything.
The Polynomial throws you into a space arena, with colourful stars and lights illuminating your surroundings. Everything looks so beautiful, with sweeping rows of light against a dark background, and trippy abstract creatures moving about the place. You’re given a quick introduction to the controls, then let loose into the big, bad world.
Basic gameplay ideas form slowly as you being to explore. Left-clicking fires a stream of lasers, and you’ll encounter baddies that look like evil Chain Chomps from the Mario games. These guys will spray you with bullet fire, but hit them back enough and they’ll explode with a satisfyingly bright aura.
There are also strange, squiggly lines floating about the place, and it turns out these are your allies who need saving from the nasty chompers. Collecting power-ups and flying through wormholes will increase your power and allow you to progress. It’s all relatively simple, yet it’s hard to shake the feeling that there is more to this game than meets the eye.
Worlds are generated depending on what music you play. Any mp3 tracks from your computer can be used, and playlists can be set up – although these cannot be saved, and must be created each time you boot up the game. There isn’t really a noticeable difference when changing the current track, but it’s still nice to be able to listen to your own music while exploring.
You’ll most likely spend just as much time in the menus as you will flying around space, as there are tons of editing options available. It’s possible to alter the lighting effects, the number of stars, the visual effects, and even go as far as to change specific co-ordinates, although the majority of players will most likely feel overwhelmed by all these intricate details and leave this well alone.
While The Polynomial is definitely an intriguing project, it feels like more of a tech demo than an actual game. There are online high-score boards for those who like to track their shooting skills, but looking past the pretty visuals, there really isn’t all that much to do. Within an hour, you’ll most likely feel that you’ve seen everything the game has to offer.
With a bit more direction and purpose, The Polynomial could very well be an essential musical mind-trip, but in its current form there just isn’t enough to see and do past the ‘ooh so pretty’ initial reactions. Still, it’s definitely worth downloading the demo and experiencing it for yourself.