RPS’s own Lewie Proctor tipped us off about this. The Polynomial: Space of the Music is a shooter out now on Steam, boasting a demo, a reasonable £5.99 pricetag and the prettiest screenshots in the world.
Lured by these magnificent images, Jim and I had a play. We then picked ourselves up off the floor for a chat.
Quinns: So, The Polynomial. How many of your minds did it blow?
Jim: How odd that you should phrase it like that. I was just chatting to someone else about what it would be like to have multiple attention centres. So I could be playing Minecraft and stalking an ex on Facebook at the same time. But yes, it’s a bona fide psychedelic game, like you seldom see these days.
Quinns: I found my eyes kept going out of focus.
Jim: We should probably try to described it. It is an arena shooter, but in 3D, right?
Quinns: Right. So, if you imagine one of the space-shooters of yore, but swap all the ships and missiles for the kind of abstract geometric patterns and pretty wibbliness, you’ve got The Polynomial. Oh, and the entire world pulses in time to whatever music you select. The result is just hallucinatory. Is that a word?
Jim: That is a word. A good word. I mean it reminds me of the Geometry Wars axis of neon visuals, but yeah, it’s flying and shooting. And I think Newtonian physics, so you are dealing with true inertia and so forth.
Quinns: I think in breaking Polynomial down into its components, we’re losing something. This game is genuinely jaw-dropping.
Jim: It’s odd actually, because I saw some early version of this a while back, and I remember wondering if it would make it to a finished game, and it has, and it’s quite the thing. In some ways it’s really old, part of that indistinct “just flying about shooting” genre that you don’t see much anymore but on the other it feels almost timelessly videogamey also: the death thing made me feel weird
Quinns: The death effect made me think my graphics card was melting. I need a new PC. But yeah, it feels like a videogame. It feels like what gamers in the 80s might have thought we’d be playing in 2025. And there are enough elements to it, with the Ghosts and the Amplifying Spheres and the Flowers to make it feel nuanced. It feels like future-sport.
Jim: Yeah, it is a sort of 80s dream of the future, precisely because it’s an extension of early 3D’s abstractness
Quinns: Now we’re getting somewhere. Everybody! Play The Polynomial, because it’s an 80s dream of the future. There’s a demo out and all.
Jim: And try not to feel queasy when you die. It’s just not cricket. (And in the game!)