Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4
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Whitaker Trebella (née Blackall) may have become known in the indie gaming circles for his music in games like Tilt to Live & Super Stickman Golf, but he has spent the past year learning how to program, and his first App Store release is here: Polymer. The goal is to slide pieces arranged in rows and columns around a board to form closed off shapes. Forming larger shapes is advantageous, as scores increase exponentially with each additional piece. As well, consecutive polymers detonated without sliding any more pieces around increases the score multiplier, making it worth it to detonate large polymers near the end of chains.
Polymer boasts three game modes, two of which need to be unlocked by either accumulating points throughout the game, or via in-app purchase. The first mode is Two Minutes, where the player has two minutes to score as many points as possible. One Polymer mode has players just trying to make as large and high-scoring of a polymer as they possibly can with no time limits at all.
The Two Minutes mode is perfect for a quick session. The One Polymer mode is great for getting into that zen state, where only trying to accomplish the goal at hand is key. When I was typing that past sentence, I was afraid to delete a letter lest it shift every word back and mess up the whole sentence. That's the kind of effect that the game can have. The soundtrack provides a great feel to the game, though this is not a surprise considering that Whitaker Trebella is primarily known for his music.
The game really clicked for me, and had me extremely addicted when I started to play the One Polymer mode, and realized that it's best as a training ground for high scores in Two Minutes mode. With no pressure, the art of building polymers can be practiced here. Then, it just becomes about building large polymers in short amounts of time in Two Minutes, along with setting up small polymers that can be used to make a big chain, topped off by that high-scoring polymer at the end.
While the in-app purchases for modes and pieces are all optional as they can be unlocked in the game itself over time, it can still take a long time to unlock all the extra pieces, modes, and color schemes available. The app is a bit unstable on the iPod touch 4th gen at the moment, with crashes occurring occasionally on app relaunch and when trying to tweet pictures of polymers. The app also has no iPad-native support at the moment.
While there are a few bumps along the way, Polymer is an extremely impressive game even when forgetting that it's from a first-time developer. It's already one of my favorite puzzle games on iOS.