Developer: Blue Button Games
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 0.01
Device Reviewed On: iPad Mini Retina

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★☆☆
Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★½☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Polarity is a first-person puzzler that shamelessly apes Portal, which is perhaps the best game released this millennium. I’m not here to bury it for that – there are far worse sins that developers could commit – but I must discuss how the game fails to stick the landing on a concept that could be really interesting if it was explored further.

Polarity-4The gameplay of Polarity deals not with portals, but with color-based polarity. Players switch between being red or blue. Being a color means being able to pass through that color’s barriers, but not the other – and the game naturally plays with this mechanic to where color barriers form walkways, and quick switching is frequently necessary. Blocks that players can interact with also come into play; they’re of the same colors as the player’s polarity, but have otherwise no direct relationship to the player.

The problem is that Polarity is toothless. The game’s never really challenging, and it feels like the whole time it’s awkwardly fumbling around with its concept – always trying to just introduce things without truly exploring them. Tossing blocks long distances to activate unreachable switches is perhaps the most creative of the challenges. At least the game is unafraid to be spatially big at times.

Polarity-1And the game’s length is a problem too. This is not hypocritical in comparison to Portal because that game was a perfectly short composition. Polarity feels too brief, finding all of the data holograms that are required to open up later levels is merely a matter of time, and when the game ends it doesn’t feel like it has exhausted all of its good ideas. There’s the promise of more levels, and I hope that it’s not an empty one because it does feel like Polarity could be a really interesting game if it was designed to be.

I know that the touchscreen controls inherently limit just what could be done as far as testing the player’s reactions. But the controls are just good enough to where challenges like having to switch polarity in complex sequences while hurtling through the air wouldn’t seem impossible.

So, to the creator of Polarity I say: give this one another shot. It’s time to take the training wheels off. Make some more levels that really explore what Polarity can be, because it deserves something more than this.


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