Doesn’t matter if you are blue, or red: you will die anyway.
Not another endless runner, I can’t take it anymore. That was my first thought when reading the description. The tutorial, and first levels had me yawning bored out of my mind. Tedious, but then something happened. I died.
What? I have played at least thirty endless runners the last couple of years, and now I started dying on an early level. This kept me going just to prove that I wouldn’t be bested by this kind of game. And then it happened again. I died.
Now the game started to challenge me. Not with level design in the same way like for example the randomized endless running of Canabalt. No, instead Polara started to polarize the challenges. Much like shooters like Ikaruga, or even more like the excellent PSN platformer Outland the colour of Agent Lara can be changed. A simple tap on the right side of the screen changes between red, and blue. Incoming fire, obstacles, platforms and magnetic fields all adhere to this rule of polarized colours.
For an endless runner this is truly a fresh idea, and despite being level based which I usually hate it kept me glued to the screen. Having levels means it isn’t an endless runner per definition, but there are several unlockable modes that allows for some mean endless running.
When you have to colour shift between different obstacles, dodge incoming fire and avoid getting sucked out into space Polara can get truly intense. Even with a lot of checkpoints the levels take time to beat. Having boss fights in this colour-shifting runner can feel a bit mean. Like stomping on the hand of someone hanging on for dear life from the edge of a roof.
There are however not all red roses, or blue pearls in the world of Polara. I think the presentation suffers from a lack of polish. Overall the world feels barren, and the hero agent Lara is lacking in animation. Furthermore having zero support for the larger screen of the iPhone 5 is a huge drawback in my book. Too often Lara runs off a platform to her death when I have tapped outside of the game real estate where there should have been a sensitive spot. Playing on an earlier iPhone, or on the iPad is of course a better experience, as the entire screen is used. A shame though, as a lot of people buying new games at the moment do so from an iPhone 5.
Polara is a fresh entry in the endless runner genre featuring a quick, and clever colour-shifting mechanic. Slow to start, but once you get to harder levels the game becomes hard to put away. At that point the lack of graphical flair doesn’t matter, and I can only do one thing: keep running. And yes, die.
Polara $0.99 Universal for iPad/iPhone/iPod
Seller: Hope this works games Inc.