The Polynomial: Space Of The Music
- PC/Mac / £5.99 (Steam, with free demo available)
Dmytry Lavrov knows his unblinking audience well, and knows that they're on a journey into space and time, man. This is less a game and more of synapse-melting visualisation experience, where you stare into the alluring psychedelic void of possibilities, never quite sure where you're going or whether you'll ever come back.
Described with inappropriate sobriety as "a 3D spaceflight music game with abstract, mathematically generated scenery and models," you find yourself in a strange, swirling, colourful world, tasked with little more than shooting the bad guys and flying into the good guys while enjoying the pulsing vibrancy of the hypnotic aural accompaniment.
It doesn't really matter whether you're any good at it, or whether you can even figure out the layered complexities of the scoring system. You'll focus your fire on the chomping Om-Noms, head for the rapid-fire collectibles, try to hide in the safe zones, and eventually head into different 'arenas' via the worm-holes. Or you'll just spin around, saucer-eyed with no sense of purpose.
You'll probably 'die' a lot, but it never feels like punishment. Respawning straight back into the action, you simply go again, floating around the fractal void, sucking up the sights and sounds for no other reason than the pleasant things it does to your brain.
Despite the pretence of gaming structure, let's call The Polynomial what it is: an invitation to sit around in self-medicated bliss.
- Xbox Live Indie Games / 400 Points (£3.40 - trial free)
- PSN / £3.99
Quite why Gameloft elected to throw a perfectly decent top-down shooter like Tank Battles into the wilds of the Xbox Indie channel (with zero fanfare) is a complete mystery. Having been previously released on PSN more than a year ago (and now available at a much cheaper price), it evidently deserves a much more dignified fate.
If you caught it first time around, you'll know that it's essentially a modern-day riff on Atari's prehistoric (well, 1974) arcade classic, Combat, where tanks must face-off against each other and blast each other to little chunks in a series of top-down arenas.
Now blessed with comparatively lavish effects and detailed environments, Gameloft does a fine job of retaining the original's instantly addictive appeal while adding much-needed depth and variety. With various pickups available to enhance your speed and weapons, you're always mindful of attaining a tactical advantage, while also trying to blast the living daylights out of your similarly-minded opponents stationed at opposing corners of the map.
With around 50 campaign levels to wade through, there's plenty to keep you occupied, but it's multiplayer where the game has most long-term potential. Sadly, getting an online game going is pretty unlikely, so couch-based multiplayer is likely to be your best bet.
Despite its relatively high price (for an Indie game), Tank Battles is well worth a look. At half the price of most of the current crop of XBLA titles, it's a steal.