Thank you Mindfield Games for providing us with a review code!
P.O.L.L.E.N is a sci-fi 3D adventure game that takes place on Saturn’s moon, Titan. The year is 1995 and since John F. Kennedy survived his assassination attempt, the space program really took off (pun intended). RAMA Industries is in charge of interstellar mining and research colonies and you’ve been recruited to station M to investigate the disappearance of one of their employees.
Before you’re hired, you have to answer some basic and personality questions. I’m used to getting asked my gender, but this is the first game to ask me which gender I identify with (female in case you’re wondering). I’m not sure if or how the personality questions affected the gameplay, but the story is good regardless.
When you first land, you are supposed to re-establish power and secure the equipment before the incoming lunar storm arrives. On your way to the base, you witness a strange phenomenon that involves some glowing pollen substance.
The base is eerily empty and there are some clothing remains of the staff members with puddles of blood? near them. The organic bodies are gone, but artificial limbs remain if they were used. There are many tapes left behind that serve as audio diaries chronicling the last moments of some of the staff members. Unfortunately, some of these tapes are riddled with foul language and blaspheming.
Many areas of the base are locked or blocked by obstacles and you’ll have to figure out how to work around them. The makers of the game have released a spoiler-free guide if you’re in need of assistance. I’ll admit that I used it on occasion, and by doing so, I was able to complete this game in three hours.
Throughout the game you’ll come across objects that will transport you to a dark world version of the same place. In this alternate world you’ll have to solve puzzles to help you make progress in the normal one. It’s an interesting mechanic and it adds some suspense to the game.
The visuals are pretty immersive and the optional VR experience is neat, but in all honesty, I preferred playing this game on my monitor instead. The movement in VR gave me motion sickness. Even though I disabled the VR mode half of the time, the audio still came out of my Rift headset. I didn’t see an option to change my audio source in the game. Even with the Rift headset disabled, I sometimes had to put it on my head to trigger the sensor to have the game load the menu screen. Other than those issues, this game ran fine.
In the end, P.O.L.L.E.N is a decent adventure game and VR experience. However, it’s not without its flaws. The asking price of $24.99 is pretty steep for a three-hour game. The VR support is considered beta, so it will probably be improved upon in the future. The developers have mentioned upcoming Vive support as well. If you find this title on sale it may be worth picking up, but I certainly don’t recommend paying full price.