Some titles on Steam are quite hard to classify as a ‘game’. One such example is the recently re-released The Polynomial, a music-based flight simulator and space shooter, which will use your beats in order to change the in-game environments.
It is a very simple title. Through playing around with different settings and by changing the music which is on while you play (any music on your computer will work), scenery is generated which will flash and change based on the beat of your song. This allows for a highly personalised experience meaning you can rock out to whatever tickles your fancy, be it Dragon Force or the musical genius that is Mozart.
While the gameplay itself is extremely accessible, achieving good results is harder than it may seem. There is a high number of settings one can go through and modify and finding combinations that work is one of the hardest parts. Along with the in-built combinations, there is a more advanced editor which allows players to go through advanced settings and create their own levels. These can be saved for future use and shared between different players.
Levels will be teeming with enemies (often chasing allies, who you’ll want to save), power-ups, wormholes and more which can be discovered as you get into the game a little bit more. The gameplay is very basic and it hardly compels you to keep playing. If you’re a competitive gamer, the online leaderboards will keep you busy (which operate based on how many points you rack up within certain time limits). Otherwise, this might just be a title you pick up every now and then as a way to kill a few minutes or to revolutionise how you listen to music.
As the gameplay itself is so simplistic, it should come as no surprise that the game’s greatest feature is the concept which drives it. One’s experience with the game really depends on whether they can achieve a successful setup, as wandering around infinite darkness with only a single line of colour is about as fun as it sounds.
For these reasons, The Polynomial does not present itself strongly as a game. What the game does, it does well, but with such low variation in the gameplay itself, there’s little to motivate you to continue playing. As a result, the commercial success of might just be ill-fated; the $10 price tag a little steep for what you’re getting in the ‘game’.
Of course, the game more than anything else showcases what can be achieved when combining minimalistic graphics with impressive visual effects. Here, the game goes above and beyond all expectations, its system impressing gamers and critics alike, and probably inducing a feeling of envy among other developers. The ‘scenery’ is brilliant and changes appropriately based on the music, which is all you can ask from a music-based title.