As the type of gamer that has traditionally attached himself to the types of games that test your patience and perseverance, I feel as if I’m in a special position to speak about this title. I have played many marble rolling and time trial games in the past, and this is one of the few at the top of the stack.
POLYBALL follows the tale of a low-fidelity ball on a journey through time and space, life and death, from the plains of our familiar world to the depths of the afterlife.
Get ready to enter a new era of physics platforming. Polyball is a classic ball rolling game in the vein of Super Monkey Ball, Marble Madness, and Marble Blast – while taking cues from games such as the Sonic series, Trackmania, and Mario Kart.
There’s a lot to do in Polyball — Challenge yourself or a friend to one of over 60 levels included in the initial release, with plans for many more levels via DLC. If you’ve got some friends over and are looking for something to play, Polyball’s splitscreen multiplayer promises a good time. With classic modes like Battle and Trails, as well as a multiplayer version of the single-player experience, Polyball promises to be a must-have party game.
My first glimpse of Polyball was a few years ago (before it’s official release), and I was immediately drawn to it. The graphic style is an untextured low-poly style, and it really works well in this type of game. As an indie title I didn’t expect the sort of graphical quality and audio quality that the game produces. It’s a well polished package that impresses in many ways.
The gameplay is very basic; there is a goal at the end of each level, and you must reach it. You control the ball with a mouse & keyboard or a controller, and your only move is jump. You also have a button to reset, which you will be doing frequently.
Each level has a bronze, gold, and silver time, and there are little white crystals spattered around as collectibles. There is also a gold trophy collectible per level that is well hidden or difficult to get to.
The goal then, is three-fold. You can play each level for time, then for crystals, then for the golden trophy. This leads to quite a bit of replayability (and frustration, which I will touch on later).
So the stage is set. When you first boot up the game, you’re met with a very stylistic art direction, and the low polygon look coupled with the film grain effect is very pleasing. Immediately the game feels at home in your hands, and the controls are very twitchy and tight. I quickly turned down the mouse sensitivity to a more bearable level, and it made all the difference. The ball carries a lot of weight, and there is only minimal air-steer here. The moves and jumps you make must be deliberate, because once you’re airborn, there’s only a little bit of correction you can make. It feels solid, pure, like a ball of stone (marble even).
When you move from a stand-still or change directions, the ball will take some time to slow down before being able to switch directions, and if you’re jumping and air steering instead of just holding one direction, it affords you a little more control in ways.
The jump is also satisfying, in a mario-esque way. I make that comparison because you can jump a little or a lot, depending how fast you click and release the mouse, just like a Mario game.
Polyball can be quite stunning in the visual department. There are large vistas to behold, huge sweeping downward corridors that you will navigate with great speed, towering technical monstrosities that you must climb, and many, many more. The game is broken up into 6 worlds, with 10 stages each. With each one of those having three objectives, there is quite a lot of game here for the price. There are global leaderboards as well, if you’re into that sort of high-level competition. Maybe you’d just like to trounce your friends times!
Now, about that frustration I mentioned earlier. As I stated at the beginning of this review, I have played many games in the speed/time-trial style, and this was one of the only ones that I actually had a much better time with, once I forgot about going for the fastest times and all the objectives. When I originally played this game, I made it through to the 2nd world before getting fatigued by it, and I eventually put it down. Determined to finish it a couple years later, I came back to it, only to quickly fall into that same dejected feeling I had before. I decided that I would play through the game with the only goal being finish the levels, and it ended up becoming one of my favourite marble-roller games of all time.
Maybe it’s due to my relatively low skill level in the game, or my lack of determination to get my skill level to where it would need to be to get gold on each stage. Either way, I’m not really certain that this is a knock on the level of content in the game, because this was only my personal experience with it. Others have taken to speed running the game, so I guess it can be said that there are both ends of the spectrum.
With 60 levels of varied level design, high-speed gameplay, lots of customization options, global leaderboards, and lots of room to grow in skill, there is truly lots to be had with this game. The asking price is quite low for what you get, and I love when great indie games come along like that that well exceed their expectations.
With the regular asking price of $14.99, I feel it’s well worth a look, and at it’s current deal on Steam of 75% off, it’s a no-brainer.
Developer: Studio Monolith
Publisher: Studio Monolith
Released: Dec 1st, 2017
MSRP: $14.99 USD
– Simple, but fantastic graphics
– Controls are really great
– Varied level design
– Lots of levels, lots of stuff to do
– Possible fatigue over the difficulty of challenges