High-minded gamers the world over rejoiced at the February release of Radiohead’s PolyFauna for iPhone and Android mobile devices. The user-guided app has been described as “deeply immersive,” and players are still busy unraveling the wonders of its eerie, synthetic universe.
As with any intense gaming experience, PolyFauna consistently rewards craftiness and ingenuity. Scores of dedicated gamers continue to discover the hidden surprises, unadvertised features, and weird inside jokes of this groundbreaking app.
We collected the four coolest PolyFauna Easter eggs that have been uncovered so far. Spoiler alert, though: if you haven’t played the game, you may want to hold off on reading these so that you can try to catch them yourself!
Most PolyFauna players just rush through the river level to get to more exciting and challenging parts of the app. Big mistake! Check within the roots of the dead and solitary mangrove tree: that’s where you’ll find the shattered canoe, detritus from a barely-remembered yet profoundly disconcerting nightmare. It has no oars, and you’ll have to double-up on your supply of wood epoxy from the W.A.S.T.E. store to get it back in ship-shape. But once you’ve wrenched the crippled thing into some semblance of functionality, you’ll be ready for a joyride straight out of Smokey and the Bandit! And by Smokey and the Bandit, we of course mean the “Pyramid Song” video.
Playable ondes Martenot
Pan quickly left and right in the undersea level and out of the green weeds will emerge this early electronic instrument, famously put to use in album cuts spanning from Kid A to King of Limbs. Seasoned gamers will quickly realize that, in a deft feat of programming, the ondes is interactive and fully playable! Of course, the ondes Martenot has been out of production since 1988, and is thus a highly specialized instrument with few living practitioners. To acquire complete mastery requires years of training even for those already familiar with keyboard instruments. But Radiohead have always challenged their fans to rise to their level of creativity and musicianship, and to disappoint them now would be nothing short of a travesty.
The Mill-Man’s Song
Tap twice on the red dot as soon as you enter the mountain level, and the seven-foot tall Mill-Man will appear from his hiding place within a nearby copse. His song is old and ashen, bespeaking a clammily intimate knowledge of sickness and deprivation. Who is he? Why are his facial features so hard to discern even in full sunlight? Is he the sadness that we all have tamped down to reach for some false ideal that can only sluice through our fingers like so much black, black sand? The Sad Polar Bear can also be unlocked in this level.
Mario has Yoshi and Sonic has Tails. But you, poor PolyFauna player, are left with nothing but a glowing red dot to keep you company as find your way through the app’s confounding meta-worlds. Or are you? Heave your phone into the air and catch it behind your back as soon as you reach exactly sixteen minutes of game time, and the man who played midwife to Radiohead’s most disquieting and totemic works will appear at your side, lending a helping hand as you plumb the darkest fathoms of pre-birth (or even pre-human) consciousness. Nigel gives sage advice (“Don’t know about the drums on this one, Phil”), collects bits of bark and moss, and can be outfitted with an invisibility shield for a measly 10 Bitcoins in the W.A.S.T.E. store. They don’t call him “The Secret Weapon” for nothing!
Of course, this trove is only what core users have been able to discover so far. We’re almost positive that there are tons of fun nods to cryptozoology and past-life regression that have yet to be fully disentangled, and we’ve heard unconfirmed rumors of a hidden go-kart track. So keep an eye out, Poly-mers (that’s insider-speak for PolyFauna gamers); we can’t wait to see what you dredge up next!