I don’t like running. I own a treadmill, and I even use it occasionally, but I don’t run for fun. Mostly, I feel like running is something one should do only when necessary. Like that time I ran from the cops when they broke up that house party back when I was high school. Come to think of it, that was kind of fun…but I digress. I’m a grown man now, running is work. Or so I thought.
Polara, from the awesomely named Hope This Works Games, is an endless runner, like Temple Run or Alto’s Adventure, only it’s broken up into small bite sized levels that makes it a perfect fit for the portable PS Vita.
Although it doesn’t need it, it has a story. The game takes place in a dystopian future, where a small group of the working class rebel against a totalitarian government. You play as Lara, and you’re called on to test a suit that will allow members of the resistance to pass through the government’s defenses. And so it begins. Lara runs.
The gameplay is simple. Lara automatically runs from left to right through a side-scrolling Tron-like landscape. Of course you’ll need to jump, and you can do that with the X button. The gimmick with Polara lies with her suit. You change the color of your suit from blue to red with the left shoulder button or by simply touching the left side of the screen. You’re not a fashion victim, you say? You don’t care what color your shirt is? That’s not the point here, people. You have to change the color of Lara’s suit. You see all of those red and blue lasers? Guess what happens when you run through a blue laser when your suit is red? Do you remember what Obi-Wan did to that walrus looking fella in the cantina? It wasn’t pretty. Don’t end up like walrus guy.
And it’s not just lasers here , folks, you’ll find color coded floors, trampolines, even gravity reversing sections, and they all rely on you changing the color your suit at the right time. Like I said, it’s a simple, yet addictive design that becomes more in-depth and complicated the deeper you get into the game. You’ll die a lot, but that’s okay. The deaths in Polara are more like lessons than punishment, as the checkpoints seem to be every couple of seconds played. So you rarely need to replay something you’ve completed and can focus on where you failed. It’s a great way to keep you invested and to keep you running.
Each level (of fifty plus) is only a couple of minutes, and after every tenth level completed, you’ll face a new boss. It was a nice way to break up the monotony and to tell the story. After defeating each boss, a comic book style cut scene will tell the tale. It’s a surprisingly meaty story that, like I mentioned, didn’t need to be in an endless runner, but the game is better for it.
If you finish the campaign and want to keep going, there are plenty of reasons to do so. You can replay each level to improve scores, lower your number of deaths, or pick up the random unlockables. In short, there is plenty of content for the meager price tag.
The controls are simple, but tight, and the difficulty balancing is near perfect. If you do your best running from the comfort of your own couch, then I don’t think you can go wrong with Polara.
Polara PS Vita Review
Overall - Very Good - 7.5/10
It’s not easy to mix mindless and addictive gameplay that is perfect for both quick sessions and long runs, but Hope This Works Games has nearly done it. It is in no way perfect, but at this budget price, its close enough. If you like endless runners, then dust off that Vita and give it a shot.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digtial copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.