It’s a race to the finish in Polyball, Studio Monolith’s new physics-based title. Taking cues from Marble Madness and Super Monkey Ball, should you let this one roll into your heart?
The goal of Polyball is a simple one. You, a low polygonal ball, must get to the end of each level as fast as possible. Better times net you medals, and the more medals you have, the more Sectors you unlock. There is a “Par Time” for each course, with gold, silver, and bronze rankings. Levels don’t run too long, with some featuring goals of 15 seconds. There are also Shards that can be collected in each level, and bonus for things like going fast and getting air. It’s pretty basic stuff, but it works well in this scenario.
Each level pays host to a different gimmick. The first sector alone will have you going through forests, steep canyons, lakes, and more. Everything’s got a low poly look (including your ball), which is taken a little too far. As a result, everything is not too memorable, and sometimes comes across as a little unpolished and low budget. This extends to the overly basic menus, and even the ability to submit bugs. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it does not make a lasting impression.
Gameplay of this sort requires pinpoint precision. A keyboard and mouse setup, though unorthodox, works surprisingly well here. Players control the ball with the WASD keys, can jump with the space bar, and can adjust the camera with the mouse. The controls are overly sensitive, and gameplay is fast – a recipe for disaster. Thankfully, restarting each level is as simple as pressing a button, making it easy to truly master each level and the controls.
Herein lies the fun of Polyball – those that can overcome these obstacles can do some downright cool stuff in the game. The game’s physics are on point, and ricocheting your ball at lightning speed is a thrill. There is a serious learning curve standing in the way of victory, but the game channels the arcade spirit when everything clicks.
Polyball does have some bells and whistles to keep players going. High scores and good times are a given, but there is also a level editor, hidden trophies, the ability to race ghosts, and even multiplayer. The game also has a level editor, which stands out to the creative folks above us.
There’s no denying that Polyball is rough around the edges, but this game has got spirit. Those that can overcome the fidgety controls and basic presentation will experience something reminiscent of the Monkey Balls and Marble Madnesses of the world.