Polychromatic is the type of game that defines easy to pick up, but difficult to master. In my time with the game, which clocked in at around 10-11 hours, I found myself constantly using my binge watching motto which is “just one more.” There is something instantly charming about a game that refuses to let the player go.
Polychromatic is a love letter to games like Geometry Wars and that is noticeable from the very second that the player starts their first game. Players control a ship that shoots bullets at shapes that materialize around the playing field. Enemies come in waves which are labeled on the screen. The type of enemies that appear are random. Unlike other games in the genre, none of the run-throughs in Polychromatic will ever play the same way as the run before. Enemies don’t follow a specific pattern, instead they appear on the screen based on the current situation in the playing field.
I’ve played games like this for years, but this gameplay mechanic made Polychromatic feel fresh. Each session kept me on guard because I never knew what to expect. Some games would last about 10-15 minutes while others ended at the 3-5 minute mark. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are in the game, you never feel safe because the game is swift, intense and absolutely nerve-wrecking.
In addition to shooting enemies with your normal attack, there are two other tricks in your arsenal that can cause some serious (strategic) damage as well. With the press of “RB” players can use a super boost that can move you to another part of the map at a quicker pace and it even kills enemies in the process. Players who use this move must be careful because your invulnerability doesn’t last very long. It’s usually good for a fast getaway. This is particularly useful when the intensity ramps up to 10. The other weapon in the arsenal is the bomb which can be fired with the press of any of the triggers. The bomb destroys all of the enemies in the vicinity of the playing field.
Each of these weapons serve a purpose in the overall scheme of things, but knowing when to use them is a different story. You start each game off with 3 lives, 3 bombs and 3 dashes. Going through a certain amount of waves will increase each of these things. Polychromatic is very generous when it comes to rewarding players for playing well, but despite the growing arsenal, that may not always be enough.
Polychromatic is broken up into three modes. There is an endless mode which is the default mode in the game. In endless mode, players keep on until all of the lives in the stock pool are depleted. Timed mode gives players two minutes to score as much as possible. There are unlimited lives in this mode while the rules for gaining more bombs and dashes stays the same. Players also gain 10 extra seconds after each wave is completed. Urgency in this mode is at a critical state because unless you have a solid groove, time will be wasted while trying to shoot through waves. The final 30 seconds in particular feel more intense than they should.
Lastly, there is the One-Life mode which is the mode to play if you really want to show the world what you are made of. One-Life mode is self-explanatory. You have to score as many points as possible in just one life. Bombs and dashes can be earned, but players must be on their A game during play-throughs of this gametype.
Polychromatic is the type of game that strives for competition. There is no multiplayer, but the online community will make the game last. The game has leaderboards for each of the three modes (Endless, Timed, One-Life) that will test every player. You can see a friends leaderboard as well as a global leaderboard. At the end of each of the games, you can see the players who are around you in terms of score. Many players crave competition (including me) and seeing the next people on the leaderboards kept me going back for more.
The sound quality is also top notch. From the moment you start playing the game, the score is infectious and very appropriate in every single aspect. It compliments the game and sometimes adds to the stress when an overwhelming number of enemies surround your ship.
It’s weird; Polychromatic isn’t a perfect game, but I didn’t really find anything wrong with it. The visuals are very appealing, the gameplay is responsive and addicting while the modes offer some diversity. Fans of arcade styled shooters will definitely find a lot to enjoy with Polychromatic. It’s a game that screams competition, offers plenty of fun and will keep you interested until you realize that hours have passed by. With a market full of first-person shooters, racing games, and open world games, it’s fun to just relax and play a great throwback to arcade styled games. If you want a new gaming addiction, Polychromatic is definitely the game for you.
Andrew Gonzalez is the Co-Editor-In-Chief of Xbox Enthusiast. When not writing about Xbox, he’s usually reading comics, talking about Taylor Swift, and dreaming of the perfect Jet Force Gemini Reboot. You can follow him on Twitter. @AJGVulture89