Polarity Ultimate Edition Review

Having never owned an Ouya, I’d only heard about this game in passing when it was first released on that platform in 2013, and later for Windows via Steam. Even in those passing conversations, I’d heard it was “just a Portal clone” and similar sentiments.  Although the game does play a lot like Portal, there are only so many ways you can present a puzzle-platformer such as Polarity. The game includes all expansions and game modes that have been released for other platforms.

Polarity: Ultimate Edition should be a highly enjoyable experience for anyone that enjoys platformer games with heavy puzzle elements. Then again, I am a huge fan of Portal and other first-person puzzlers (The Witness, Ether One, Vanishing of Ethan Carter, etc.) and this game seemed to be a natural fit for me.  Upon starting a new game, I was presented with a brief hacker-speak text conversation between an unidentified, mysterious stranger (‘UN.KWN’) and my character, Noah (‘HEX.CUTE’). After this exchange, that serves as the game’s opening cinematic, I was dropped into the game’s first level. The controls are pretty simple.

Like other first person games, you move with the left stick and look/turn with the right stick. Cross to Jump, Square to interact with or pick up various items, Circle to drop carried items and triangle to change your Polarity (color). R1 toggles sprint to move a little faster (if you jump straight into co-op, this tidbit is missing from the co-op tutorial, but still works).

The first level served as a brief tutorial and had a variety of simple challenges that showed me the basic mechanics of the game. When I was finished with the first level, it showed me my time, the number of data fragments that I had collected and gave me the option to continue to the next level or to retry that level if I wasn’t happy with my time (or missed one of the three data fragments).

The game also has a medal system for beating certain times on each level, which is exclusive to the PS4 version of Polarity. However, the only thing that earning all the medals seems to affect is the fact that there is a trophy for collecting all the medals.  I don’t know if it is by design, and I am missing something, but the times to beat for gold medals on some levels seem to be extremely difficult to reach. On the first level, after running through and collecting everything almost flawlessly, I don’t see a way to do better than about a minute and ten seconds. The time to beat for a gold medal is 57 seconds.

That said, however, a game that is designed around “hacking” it would not surprise me if there are some undocumented, built-in “glitches” to exploit. I will have to investigate this further in future playthroughs.

The pacing for adding new elements to the levels seems to be pretty good. While the first few puzzles only involve the basic controls. A few levels in and you are starting to face environmental hazards, as well as new devices to either help or hinder progress (You need your Red polarity to pass through red lasers, but your blue polarity to stand on red laser platforms).  Then the game starts throwing an assortment of combinations at you (such as a set of blue laser platforms to jump between, with a blue laser between them).  Needless to say, if you need to test your triangle button, this is the game to do that with.

After completing both the single player and co-op modes, I must admit the co-op mode seems to be slightly more difficult than the single-player mode.  The game can be short (the Gold Medal time to beat for most Single-player levels is around 1 minute), but at $13, the game is well worth it, if only for the split-screen goodness that is the Co-op mode.

Steve is an avid gamer dating back to the mid 1970s when PONG was all the rage. He’s mainly a console gamer, but has dabbled here and there with PC gaming on occasion. When he is not playing games or walking his dog, he’s probably busy with his day job as a truck driver.

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