Oh. Em. Gee!
This. This is what Virtual Reality was invented for. And what an amazing first foray into the world of VR for Llamasoft. 120fps? Check. 4K Ultra HD? Check? Works on 3D TVs (I would love to see this)? Check. Blows your mind in Virtual Reality? Big fat check!
Llamasoft is still a relatively small company, but they have produced some seriously quirky and fun games over the decades. I grew up playing games like Hover Bovver and Attack of the Mutant Camels, and I am so glad that technology has finally caught up with what these guys can do.
So what’s a Polybius? I hear you ask. Well, it doesn’t exist. Or at least it didn’t. I mean, it does now, obviously. But it has its roots in an urban legend, started in 2000, about a mythical 1981 arcade game, which was part of a government-run psychology experiment. The game started to appear randomly in various arcades and proved to be extremely addictive. Men in Black agents (seriously) would come and retrieve the data stored on them for analysis. As quickly as they appeared, all these machines mysteriously disappeared. Every day’s a school day, huh?
So, if you play this game does Will Smith suddenly turn up in your living room to wipe your memory. Sadly not, or at least I don’t remember…
This version of Polybius is actually intended to be a completely stress free experience. The only thing it may be guilty of is making you feel relaxed and happy. I have a stupid grin on my face every time I play it!
So what is it? Well it’s basically a shoot ’em up. In gloriously bright 3D. You control a small spaceship at the bottom of the screen, and in early levels you can move your craft left and right, shooting anything that gets in your way and making your way through the bison horn-shaped gates for bonuses. Soon, very soon, though you are moving your little ship all around the screen – around the inside of a cylinder, sometimes around the outside. Incredibly disorienting, incredibly fast, incredibly loud, incredibly bright, incredibly fun.
Based on Llamasoft’s Neon engine (which started life as a light synthesiser), you discover straight from the title screen that Polybius is like no other game. I could, and I have, just sit and stare at the titles for ages and ages as random objects fly past you and some very relaxing music pipes its way into your ears.
Not only is Polybius supposed to be stress free, it’s also nausea free. Despite the endless warnings when you first start the game up (flashing lights, lots of flashing lights), the claims are true. In game, you can be whizzing along at ridiculous speeds, your eyes assaulted with every colour of the rainbow, trippy music blasting through your headphones – and you are seriously untroubled by it all. There really is no motion sickness, it really doesn’t matter if you miss that fried egg, or if that Space Invader blows you up. It’s just perfect. Even getting smashed into millions of pixels is such a pleasure to the senses that you can’t help but smile and think, “Oh well. I’m just going to play it all over again.”
I should also point out that there isn’t a screenshot in the known universe that can do this game justice. Just take my word for it and go and buy it would you? Oh, and the soundtrack is awesome – my particular favourite that kicks off on Level 1 is called “Brace Position”. Love it!
Image already added