162. Polybius

Polybius (2017, PS4) by Llamasoft

Current 50 Levels Leaderboard (speedrun.com)

Polybius (PlayStation 4)
-Poly Play (Arcade)
-Tempest (Arcade)
-Berzerk (Arcade)
-Asteroids (Arcade)
-Battle Zone (Arcade)
-Polybius (Atari 2600)
-Polybius (Arcade; Homebrew)

Words cannot describe how awful this experience was for me. But, I’ll try to explain it, anyways…

(UPDATE MAY 2023: Words absolutely CAN describe this experience. I’ll leave the article here, but this documentary I made goes into MUCH more detail.)

Going into this game, I thought to myself, “gee, what a free and easy WR, and an easy Trial!” I didn’t do enough research or practice, and I just “brute-forced” this one. I downloaded the game, messed around with it for 20 minutes, and said “Let’s go!”

Boy, what a mistake.

Polybius, for what it’s worth, is actually a pretty awesome game casually, and in short play sessions. The game has built-in VR modes, and I can’t imagine how cool this must be in immersive 3D. But, the visuals are VERY psychedelic, and very much seizure-inducing. Anyone with sensitivity to flashing lights should be careful playing or watching this game.

Lest we forget that this game is insanely unfair.  Excuse my French here, but this game is fucking bullshit.  There are so many obstacles that you simply cannot avoid.  They come out of nowhere, and even using pause strats I could not avoid them.  There are even obstacles that are literally invisible.  Worst of all, these annoying, absolutely awful pills that you cannot avoid are part of those invisible armies.  The best part being that, when they “touch” you (and honestly, I never saw a pill, you tell me) they send you back to the start of the stage (of course, not refilling your shields).

(WARNING: this clip is NSFW)

As you play, you have limited shields, and you gain some back as you complete levels.  However, once your shields are gone, one hit kills you and you start over.  Thankfully, there are unlimited retries, and each level is a checkpoint, so that alone pulls this dumpster fire slightly in front of Independence Day as the worst game so far in the Trials.

So what do you get when you put together, in one “neat package”:
-A game full of psychedelic, flashy, colorful imagery that is meant to make you feel tripped out?
-A game that is brutally difficult, requiring a marathon session to complete in one sitting?
-A game that requires you to focus 100%, never blinking, never taking your eyes off the screen?

This game should not be speedrun. Honestly. By the halfway point of this trial, I was breaking controllers and cursing like a sailor. By hour 4, I was taking 5 minutes breaks with the timer running so I could go into my bedroom and cry into a pillow. By hour 5, I was in a trance. When I finished, I looked away from the screen and the walls were warping in a mass of colors and wavy images. It was awful.  I was dizzy and disoriented, I felt like I was being thrown into the blue tunnel you see in Star Wars, when a ship goes into hyperspace.  I literally wept from relief when it was over.  It’s all on tape, go see it for yourself.

This was not the worst game in the trials, but this was one of the worst gaming experiences of my life, and you couldn’t pay me to try it again. (Ok, but it would have to be a LOT of money).


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