Polygod has been a long time coming, for me at least. This is a game that takes an over saturated formula, simplifies it, and then makes it entirely its own. Polygod is described as a rogue-like, global multiplayer first person shooter that supports random generation. This alone sounds basic on paper, but let me rest your doubts, Polygod is not a game to be taken lightly. The game’s punishing difficulty, its addictive gameplay loop and its generated depth, effortlessly elevates it above many of its peers. Alongside Fall of Light, Polygod is one of the more interesting games landing this week.
Players take on the role of rogue assassin, Faceless the Blessed. You’re the last of your kind and to fight against looming extinction, you must take down bands of minions and champions that have been sent by the Gods via an epic event known as The Trial of the Gods. It’s a very straightforward concept, but one that has something much heavier resting on its back. Each level in Polygod, as alluded to above, is randomly generated with the use of seeds, and should you not save each seed for successive runs, no two levels that you face will ever be the same.
The twist? I hear you asking. Well, in Polygod, there’s no reloads or additional equipment to lean on. You’re given a gun, basic movement, and off you go. That’s that. Before we continue, I should point out that the game does indeed allow you to save seeds, should you plan on returning to a specific level later on. There’s also the ability to play random seeds and daily seeds on top of this, all accessible from the game’s main menu. This sits inline with the ability to check out a daily dungeon, daily leaderboards and multiplayer functionality. Not too shabby, right?
Regardless as to how you approach Polygod, the fields of play remain the same. Death will come often, but this is very much a core mechanic here, so much so that it’s a natural part of the gameplay’s loop. Each new seed brings with it a unique and distinct labyrinth-esque environment, filled with dangers, intrigue and several, several choke-points. I wont lie, I first felt like smashing my controller to pieces after just thirty minutes of play, but once I began to completely understand the fundamental design of Polygod, that aforementioned addiction began to swiftly set.
The aim of the game sees you being thrown into your seeded map, and then tasked with making it from one end to the other. Enemies of all shapes and sizes are littered everywhere, many of them coming with their own attacks and movement patterns, and believe me, things can get very hectic. Besting these foes will grant you Souls that can be spent at the Alters of Worship, which are subsequently placed randomly around each map. Here, you’ll be able to invest in some life saving stat-boosting abilities that can greatly aid you as you journey deeper through each labyrinth within.
For instance, you could exchange five Souls for an Unholy Quick Core which grants you additional damage output and increased movement speed. The kicker, however, is that this will also decrease other aspects of your build, such as lowering your rate of fire. There’s a nice variation of buffs that you can pick up from Alters of Worship, oftentimes changing not only the flow of each run, but your very play-style too. It pays of to be very mindful about what you invest in, especially if your current build is one that’s already helped to get you far through any given stage.
Downing enemies will also grant you some health, which will stack on top of the meager health pool that you begin with. This is where it’s important to avoid incoming damage, which in-turn, will allow you to soak up as much health as you can afford for the tougher phases ahead. Polygod has a tremendous amount of risk-vs-reward going for it, something that’s apparent from the get-go of each seed. The varying foes within can prove to be a nuisance if you don’t watch their reactions; some will follow you, some will patrol their surroundings, and others will stand firm.
Once you begin to understand how each of them operate, any given run in Polygod gradually becomes more fluid. Standing far back and picking off the stationary enemies is easy work, but running backwards whilst shooting the pursuing enemies is oftentimes something you’ll need to be mindful of to ensure that you have enough freedom of room. Still, whatever the case, each foe puts up quite a fight and I enjoyed the different tactics that I had to regularly adopt throughout my time with the game. Despite, of course, how freakin’ difficult the game can be.
That’s not to mention the towering boss battles that await you, should be skillful enough to reach them. There’s a decent pool of boss battles to take to, all bringing their own unique mechanics to test you just that little bit more. If you’ve crafted a good build along the way, these a much easier to dispose of than you would think. On the flip-side, if you’ve not been taking advantage of the Alters, well, you’re in for a tough ride. In regards to the controls, Polygod holds its own fairly well. It can feel a bit clunky and imprecise to begin with, but some time and perseverance alleviates this almost entirely.
When all is said and done, Polygod is a very fun game. One that’s all the more fun when you’re playing with your nearest and dearest through local or online co-op. The generic audio and the somewhat basic UI and visuals will hardly impress, but the variation outlined above does make this easier to overlook. Polygod will take you through some interesting locations that offer up some decent themes, such as forests, lakes, factory-like surroundings and much, much more. The bottom line in all of this is that Polygod offers heaps of tense fun, and with its issues to the side, it’s a great experience with a solid loop.
Polygod offers a challenging, randomly generated experience that’s constantly engaging and fun. There’s a lot of variation here across the game’s levels, its enemies and its pacing, which collectively ensures that repetition almost remains completely holstered throughout. There’s certainly a steep difficulty curve to begin with, but its greatly addictive core gameplay loop will keep you coming back for more.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.