It’s never too late to try something cool, especially when it combines two rather interesting ideas. For one, Polara is a side scrolling free-runner that actually has a decent story to it. Secondly, unlike Temple Run among many others, Polara separates itself out into multiple levels that increases the challenge to keep you interested for some time. Safe to say, this isn’t an arcade game you’ll play for a few seconds of then forget once you’ve beaten your high score.
Polara follows a young special agent taking part in a scientific experiment that requires the use of a powerful suit. Caught in the middle of world power and a rebel group who want to use the suit for good, Agent Lara breaks it out of containment, only for the world outside to try and stop her by throwing endless weapons and defence systems back at her.
You’ll be controlling Lara (not to be confused with that other Lara) across 50 or so story levels that has you strategically avoiding the incoming attacks by colour switching. The suit allows you to switch between red and blue colours which will then allow you to absorb weapons fire of the same colour or activate jump pads, if you land on them with the appropriate colour activated. That’s just a small taste of what’s on offer, with plenty of other obstacles and patterned attacks that will get in your way.
The controls are split down the middle, with one side of the screen to activate the suit colour swap and the other a stock standard jump. By not having to worry about controlling Lara beyond that, you can concentrate on learning the attack patterns of each level to time your run perfectly.
Animated stills intersperse the action, relaying the struggle Lara faces as the enemy tracks her down. Though there’s no voice overs, it’s almost like reading a well drawn motion comic. It’s just a shame there isn’t more of it though, the game could have down with a little more break up between levels. It’s great to play, but it did drag on a little bit early on. Things do pick up pace after the early levels, a tough but fair increase in difficulty for one along with a number of added obstacles.
For those of you scared off by the runner genre or wondering if it becomes just that little bit too difficult, there are a number of checkpoints through-out each level to ensure you don’t have to retry the entire thing over and over just because of one last jump or dodge. And though the early levels are a little basic, it’s designed largely to get you to grips with the ideas it presents and does a good job of it.
To think that the story mode isn’t Polara’s greatest appeal. Once you finish each level a new challenge mode will become available to play, adding hidden unlockables such as letters that make up the word Polara into the existing maps. Collect them along with other hidden treats and you’ll be able to purchase alternative level types that extends the life of the game far beyond the original concept, including further variations on the endless runner mechanic that would appeal on their own, let alone as part of a package.
There’s no doubting the quality of Polara’s game play, combined with plenty of extra content that will keep you paling long after Lara’s initial quest comes to an end. It’s far more a puzzle game experience than it is a runner, which makes for a refreshing change of pace. The only real drawback is the musical score which, while entertaining at first, becomes repetitive rather quickly with each level that passes. That aside, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t pick up and play Polara.
Before I go, our forum team has a free Polara download code to give away, just head on over to our forums and check it out ASAP.
[review pros="Challenging but rewarding gameplay, loads of content, presentation is top notch" cons="Music gets a little repetitive, takes a little time to get to the meat of the challenge" score=90]