Indie Gaming

Try/Buy/Wait: Pony Island

In Try/Buy/Wait, Checkpoint writers review a game and give you a recommendation on whether to Try the game via demos/buy-and-refund, Buy the masterpiece of a game immediately, or Wait until the game is on sale – letting you know if a game is ultimately worth your money and time.

Your Writer: Daxter
Top 3 Favorite Games: Zero Escape Virtues: Last Reward, Dead Space, Fall Out New Vegas
Favorite Genre: RPG
Recently Finished: Shadow Complex, Enter the Gungeon: Ultimate, Plug & Play + Kids, My Friend Pedro, Celeste
Currently Playing: Space Hulk: Deathwing, Corpse Party, Destiny 2, Hollow Knight, Monster Hunter: World
Bio: My favorite anime is Clannad. Nice to meet you!


PONY ISLAND

I often ask people what separates video games from a book or a film. To me, the biggest factor is utilizing what only that medium can do. In books, you can describe a scene in extravagant detail, from how a rose smells like for a whole page to panties for five full pages. For movies, you can combine cinematography and actors to portray whatever you please. For video games, it is not only the inclusion of controls, but the interaction with the game. Between immersion in gameplay, all the way to messing with your sense of reality, video games are unique from any other form.

Pony Island is unique at its core, manipulating your expectations with a simple gameplay loop only to reveal the trick in the reward. Presenting a pony simply jumping poles, to a demonic winged steed that shoots lasers from its mouth.

The game reeks of corruption and you must insert yourself into the code and utilize logic to get from the start to the end, no matter what lays ahead.

One moment, you’re jumping, shooting, and flying, and the next you’re solving puzzles or talking through a messenger. All culminating towards your one goal: Beating pony island.

You play someone trapped in possibly limbo, possibly in the real world, playing the game Pony Island on an arcade cabinet. The devil is making you play his game, as this may also be hell. With nothing to go on, you play and meet a hopeless soul. They lead the way and help to hack the game to defeat the cabinet’s core systems, and eventually to get to Satan.

As you clear more of the game, you set forth to kill the bosses, delete the hold Satan has on the game, crash it, and then dump the files.

But Satan doesn’t go down without a fight, as he takes over the game to stop you, and all the lost souls trapped inside. But you still have to shoot lasers and kill Satan, and you’re all out of…people you can’t save?

After taking Satan down, the game is over! You won…maybe? Find the secret ending to make sure.

The game has nice music that sometimes dips into great, and it fits well with the oppressive mood of the game’s setting. Sometimes the music cuts out to build atmosphere, which I can understand but disapprove of. But the constant sonic repetition of jumping and enemies dying makes me simply wish for more.

The gameplay loop is fun, and it switches it up now and then by throwing out new modes and experiences that damage the already crumbling fourth wall even further.


One of the game’s switch-ups. The gameplay loop is shifted from 2D to 3D front perspective.

The puzzles have a well-paced gradual buildup that introduces different ways to get to the exit code, making sure that you understand the moves you are putting down. Sometimes, the secrets are hidden inside of the puzzles themselves.

For what it offers, it is hard to recommend this to people who do not play A LOT of video games. Also, the game is short. Beating it and finding all the secrets took me roughly 7 hours. To some, that’s enough, but you really only need 4 to beat the game, and not that much more to go completionist.


VERDICT: TRY

I recommend trying the game out, to see if you can get into the idea of how the game will constantly break the fourth wall. To some, it is enjoyable enough, but this isn’t for people looking for a nice and simple game session. Its quirk of how it tricks you into expecting one loop only to go to another is nice and sets it apart, but not enough to fully make this a buy. If you are really interested, maybe look it up on Youtube – particularly the GTLive playthrough does a really amazing cover of it.

Pony Island was released for the PC platform via Steam on January 4, 2016. It was developed and published by Daniel Mullins Games (@DMullinsGames) in the Unity engine with soundtrack composition done by Jonah Senzel (@JonahSenzel). The game currently retails for $4.99 and holds an “Overwhelmingly Positive” standing from 7.6k+ reviewers on Steam.

This Review was written with inspiration thanks to Pony Island Playthrogh from GTLIVE (#GTLive)

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