App Review: Polara

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Got Polara–by Hope This Works Games Inc.–a few days ago and haven’t been able to put it down. It just came out and for a short time it will be on sale for $0.99-word is it will go to $2.99 when the promotion ends. First impressions are very good!

Polara is set in a dystopian future. You play as an agent girl running from evil lasers. You have a super force field suit that can change its magic force field to blue or red, protecting you from lasers of corresponding color. There are only two controls -tap the left half of the screen to toggle between red and blue and tap the right to jump. That is it–you can’t slow down or speed up, your agent girl just continuously runs forward at a constant speed. This simplicity lends itself well to the touchscreen of a mobile device.

But while the controls are simple the game itself can be quite challenging. It starts out easy enough but the difficulty has ramps up significantly. Things get really hard. This is ok–the solid controls make this a hard but enjoyable game. When you die its because you still suck, not because of clunky or inaccurate controls.

Also, the game has an awesome checkpoint system. First the game gives you tons of checkpoints from which you’ll respawn upon dying. Each level is sliced into very short sections and at the end of each is a checkpoint. Essentially every 5 seconds of game progress you’ll reach a new checkpoint. This helps tremendously when attempting to maintain your sanity while playing this difficult game. Without the abundance of checkpoints my iPhone would have been chucked at a wall in frustration after about 5 minutes.

Another way the game eases the pain of near constant dying is by automatically respawning you instantly to your last checkpoint. No need to click restart–no need to do anything at all! Actually if you set the game down for a second your agent girl will keep running head first into a laser or off a cliff and then respawning over and over again. This “auto-respawn” feature is what I like best about this game…no more wasted precious finger strength on pressing retry buttons over and over again. In most games death is a bit of a jarring and frustrating event, but in Polara its just a fluid, natural part of the game.

All this constant dying might seem a bit repetitive but the game does a great job of mixing things up. The game has 50 levels and each introduces a new mechanic of some kind or another. A lot of the puzzles are very well designed and will take quite a few deaths and some real intelligence to figure out…and then many more deaths to actually successfully get through them.

While I quite like it, Polara isn’t without its flaws. The story leaves much to be desired, although at least it has one–many similar games have no plot to speak of. So good effort on the part of the Polara team I suppose, but the story content is meager at best and that which is there doesn’t really do anything for me. Also graphics are fine but nothing to be wowed over. I do get a little sick of watching the same 2 different jumping animations.

But overall its a great game, very addictive, and I absolutely recommend it. I’ve had a lot of fun with it thus far. Some might be turned off by the level of difficulty but I like challenging games–beating a level in Polara really gives you a sense of accomplishment.

Check out Polora on the appstore.