Polynomial 2: Universe of the Music Preview
Polynomial 2: Universe of the Music is an indie space sim style game with a huge emphasis on music and sound with a massive dose of visual flare. It seems to be designed to be primarily enjoyed with a VR Headset, so it’s worth noting that I did not play this game using VR, opting for just a standard monitor. I used an Xbox 360 controller (which was already fully mapped and worked flawlessly). It’s probably also worth noting that I did not play the first Polynomial game – so I don’t have any first hand means of comparing this sequel with its predecessor.
The current build offers a handful of different modes, but there are very little differences between them. You can opt to play the “campaign” which takes you through an assortment of levels – though I use the term levels loosely, because they are really just a handful of sections strung together, with very little thought in structure. In fact, after the first couple “levels”, you essentially do the same repetitive gameplay over and over; killing enemies that just spawn out of nowhere. At least in the first couple levels, you’d have waypoints to fly to and even a cool “tunnel” level to play. I’m also not sure if there’s an end to this game, as the last section is simply called “Arcade” and it seems to go on indefinitely.
“Enemies will appear out of nowhere, and you’ll usually have to kill them all to progress to the next section.”
Another mode is the “screensaver” mode, which is a variety of levels that look cool, but ultimately don’t offer much (you’ll have to play one of these screensaver levels, Hex, for over an hour to earn an achievement though). And then there are a few bonus modes; one of them is just a sort of testing ground of ideas that the developer probably included to get some feedback from fans and there is also a “Merry Christmas” mode, which is just a Christmas themed level.
The gameplay resolves around you piloting a ship from first-person perspective (you never actually see the ship) and shooting enemies. You’ll acquire a variety of weapons, from your basic lasers to heat-seeking rockets. Enemies will appear out of nowhere, and you’ll usually have to kill them all to progress to the next section. Some weapons require you to shoot directly at the enemy, while other weapons require you to shoot towards a blue circle reticle that appears near them.
Enemies will shoot back, and you’ll sometimes know you’re being hit due to the associated “thud” sound – but I sometimes found there would be no audio cue, or maybe it was just drowned out by other effects, so I wouldn’t realize I was getting hit until it was too late. Death results in you having to replay the section. The enemies all look like they were stripped from the Geometry Wars series.
Understandably, this game is in “Early Access” and it stands to reason that the developer intends to add more content before the final release. So, the following is just a bit of constructive criticism. Fighting enemies was rarely enjoyable, as you generally could strafe left or right to avoid their attacks while you simply shot back in a specific direction – especially stationary enemies. Enemies that were like attack ships, that moved around and were more aggressive, made things more interesting – so I’d like to see more of that.
“Polynomial 2 – Universe of the Music is a game with potential, but desperately needs to find a clear balance between visual style and gameplay.”
A visual cue to indicate your being hit might be helpful, aside from just the health percentage bar depleting. A greater sense of speed would be nice, as often it felt like we were flying really slow. This might be attained by adding some actual space bodies, like planets and such, that we can fly by. There was also way too much emphasis on visual effects in this game – it was just overkill and really ruined the overall experience. I don’t suffer from epilepsy, but even I couldn’t play Polynomial 2 for more than 20-30 minutes without feeling a dizzy sensation – it was just too visually overwhelming.
Polynomial 2 – Universe of the Music is a game with potential, but desperately needs to find a clear balance between visual style and gameplay. There’s an old saying “less is more” that really would apply to this game’s visual aspects. As for the gameplay, we need to see some more objectives, a greater sense of speed, less boring space battles and maybe an actual story.