A Colorful, if Clunky Early Access Jaunt through WWII
The camera pans over Fort Macarthur, 1941. James, our protagonist, and Tyler, our war buddy, stroll into boot camp, their animations synced. There is nary a sound present, be it music or ambiance. “…being soldier is the best!” Tyler remarks, “Girls love you, whole America loves you and frankly, there is hardly any working included!” There’s a lack of attention to detail in World War Polygon’s current release, and design shortfalls become a consistent fixture, mechanically and aesthetically. World War Polygon has glimmers of promise, but has a ways to go before an official release.
World War Polygon maintains mechanical simplicity while also adding quality of life features to assuage typical problems mobile shooters have involving reliable movement and aim. You’re blessed with auto-fire before entering the tutorial, although if you prefer, there’s a toggle for a separate fire button. This compensates for the clunkiness of the controls when engaging enemies. Combat becomes a workable task once the basic mechanics are no longer an obstacle. Movement is controlled by the left third of the touchscreen, and only goes wrong when strafing right and left. However, should the fire button be enabled, your gun absolutely will go off when your finger accidentally brushes over it. This wastes ammo, which is a limited commodity mission to mission. And on the whole, the gameplay does feel nice and responsive.
An unfortunate trade-off, however, being that missions last two minutes at most. The minuscule length of missions makes the pacing choppy and frustrating when you are often revisiting the same map several times in a row. The missions also suffer from difficulty whiplash, ranging from ‘Baby’s First Shooter’ to ‘Stand In a Circle With No Cover as Enemies Approach From Three Different Directions’. It’s not as if there is a consistent escalation of difficulty. Unfortunately, mission to mission it’s a jarring grab bag of level difficulty.
If you want a more specific example, I had some initial trouble in the later missions, as enemies come in larger, more frequent waves. However, I remembered from the tutorial that I’m impervious to grenade damage, and so I began to abuse the strategy of flinging myself into the nearest crowd of Nazis and lobbing a grenade at my feet, killing them and leaving me unscathed. It sounds funny, and it is, but it’s a technical issue that trivializes many missions in the game where you’re faced with close to overwhelming enemy numbers. It’s an encapsulation of World War Polygon’s glaring polish issues.
I just don’t know what this game wants to be. The narrative contains a gritty, violent tone juxtaposed with a cartoony, Blockland-esque graphical style. A bit of the old ultra-violence is always fun and cool, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that the colorful graphics, palatable UI, and lighthearted duo driving the story don’t quite fit with the deluge of blood and wartime struggle that the player experiences throughout the narrative. One minute, the player storms Omaha Beach, the sight of dying, bloodied comrades paramount. The next, the player battles a seven-foot-tall supersoldier named Captain Nazi who wields a shield emblazoned with the Iron Cross.
If the game delves into the realm of fantasy in future updates, it would improve, as the game lacks variety in terms of enemy units. A fantastical approach would allow the developers to add more absurd enemies like Captain Nazi without betraying the established tone. A less historically strict approach also synergizes well with the game’s bright, blocky art style. In the available campaigns, however, there’s just an almost maddening tonal inconsistency that cheapens the experience. In fairness, two single player campaign chapters remain in development, so there’s more than enough time and content to right the ship and to make World War Polygon a solid release come the final version.
Missing in Action
A lot of tinkering just needs doing before it’s ready. It’s clear so far that the developers know the ‘how’ when it comes to assembling an adequate shooter. I’m not sure they know the ‘why’ yet, unfortunately. The game’s lootbox system does not remotely incentivize itself due to a minuscule roster of guns available for unlock. There’s no score or ambient sound during missions. In order to play the Stalingrad chapter, players have to download the files from within the application (20Mb). The Multiplayer servers are devoid of a playerbase, and the distinction between 1v1 duels and a 6v6 team deathmatch is meaningless considering the client does not wait for both teams to fill up before starting the match. Also, the “Daily Battle” option on the main menu, which offers a daily scenario to encourage players to return after exhausting the campaign, crashed my game twice and wouldn’t open.
Granted, its early access status means that this is not entirely the developer’s fault. Right now, World War Polygon suffers from a lot of issues, many that afflict just about every early access title; there’s hope, but it will take a lot of work before it’s ready for a final release.