I’m not a gamer; in fact I suck at games. Yet I have borrowed an iPad from underneath the pillow of a sleeping iPad playing 80 year old woman to kill some time & of course some journalistic research for your entertainment. I wanted to find some free music games to check out and report on, but as I stumbled on idiotic nonsense after idiotic nonsense, I found something that looked like it wouldn’t be full of advertisement and click bait; PolyFauna.
“PolyFauna is an experimental collaboration between Thom Yorke, Nigel Godrich, Stanley Donwood & Universal Everything.
Your screen is the window into an evolving world.
Move around to look around.
Thom Yorke – radiohead.com
Nigel Godrich – twitter.com/nigelgod
Stanley Donwood – slowlydownward.com
Universal Everything – universaleverything.com
Released by Ticker Tape Ltd.”
The two user reviews weren’t very helpful; someone who gave the application one star wrote: ‘what this game how to play?’ And another more generous four star giving individual wrote: FUN & haha nice.
A google search for reviews of the game wouldn’t really be helpful too, lots of praises that seemed written from a press release. I did found an actual Radiohead fan who had actually tried to play it but wrote that he had given up. Instead he would go to YouTube and watch someone else playing it, ripping the soundtracks of the YouTube clips and had written (as a loyal fan) a praising review of the music available in the game. He also noted that he wasn’t able to write in a unbiased way as he wrote ‘if Radiohead would release a turd, he would probably still praise it into heaven.’ You got to admire the fan’s honesty!
Anyway, after reading that billions of people had downloaded this game on their devices & yet even a top fan didn’t want to be seen playing the actual game, I thought to give you my own notes on attempting to play it. I had done this before my google adventures, just so you know I wasn’t influenced by any manipulative ‘search’ results. Here are my own findings:
PolyFauna has a nice music-less designed opening with credits; textually you will see the names responsible for the game. I like the letters, the animation and even the silence. But when the game starts I’m floating around like some doomed lost soul in a bleak (and according to my own taste) a bit of a depressing interactive fantasy world. From the start the floor is green and on it is an endless set of lonely leafless plants and their lengthy shadows. There is a sky that is coming across as one that looks a bit like an English one; a bit clouded, creating the atmosphere of being trapped in a twilight zone.
The whole interactive part is turning the iPad into the eyes and you can move the view by moving the entire thing around. It makes me aware that I must look like a complete idiot while playing this thing. This must look even crazier than the people obsessively playing the Pokémon go game; twirling around with no cute creature and a ball in sight.
The game did instantly deliver its promise of offering a window into another digital world. I presumed that this game is designed for people with virtual reality glasses, which would make more sense than holding up the iPad in front of my face and moving it around & up and down and in circles. (I swiped the screen with my fingers too, but didn’t think it was all that practical) For one moment I thought it might have been a good idea to tape the whole ipad to my head (with the screen part towards my eyes) so I could block my normal real life view out and replace it with the one that is virtual. Luckily I’m not that creative as it might have fried my eyes out.
It seems that the game is giving people the chance to really be a bit lost inside the crazy mind of Thom Yorke and friends, while seemingly aimless floating around. It’s in that aspect not very different then hanging around uselessly in real life, except real life is clearly more interactive and (hopefully) perceived as more exciting . But nothing is for nothing, as hanging around in the whole game seems to be a way of discovering a shimmering interactive Thom York track. Ah, thanks and praises for music innovation!
if you look down to the floor (which I did a lot) the music fades, looking normally and the music goes to a pleasant volume. When you follow the strange things that fly in the sky things change music wise but also visually, the color of the landscape might transform, the plants might move and even the voice of Thom Yorke himself could be found mumbling something in his mesmerizing drowsy sing-a-song form.
^ Youtube user Mike Tucker plays PolyFauna a lot better then me.
The music is pretty minimal, let’s say its electronic Ambient with an rhythm that also seems to be interactive. The best way to discover it is clearly with the use of your ears inside headphones, as only than you will be perceiving the full stereo aspect of PolyFauna. I managed to get a little bit of enthusiasm going on and felt like a tourist armed with a photo camera making screenshots of all that I thought was a little bit different than the the bleak scene of my arrival. I tried to follow the things in the sky as when I just floated aimlessly away into the endless void the screen would go fuzzy before fading to black for a restart. In this game you clearly can’t really die, but still are able to die a little bit inside.
After half twenty minutes I kinda gave up hope and thought that ‘this’ was the game, only discovering after my google search that there are much more worlds to explore, and that I’ve should have followed ‘a red dot’ (I have not seen one, might it be a manifestation of gamers’ eyes being burned?) in order to ‘travel’ towards the next audio/visual spectacle.
In the end I guess it takes a particular kind of gamer who would enjoy such a thing. Still it’s a nice way to receive and perceive music, making you play around with it on the spot while being clueless but aware that every move might mean or trigger something. (Or not?) I’m not a mega fan so won’t go to YouTube and review all the audio available on those levels that I would not be able to hear and see by my own attempt of playing the PolyFauna game. But if you are and have no patience or interest in the whole interactive part; those YouTube uploads are a true blessing.
You can get the game for free from these popular application distributors:
For more information / credits/ screenshots and demos please be free to check the following official website: