“It is fun, which is what every game absolutely should be!”
Pony Island is exactly the sort of game you will want to get hold of if you are currently trying to convince your six year old to opt for a smaller, more affordable pet. Only loosely connected to the four-legged dwarf-horses of its namesake, this game is more of a multi-level hacking puzzler than the stable sim it may sound like. Surprisingly dark and consciously disturbing, Pony Island has far more to it than what you probably opened this article expecting. This game is an experience…
I should clarify; Pony Island is no horror game and it certainly doesn’t set out to be any kind of psychologically-frightening experience. In fact it is a humorously designed video game which lightly adopts a dark overtone to suit its setting. The simple basis of the game is that you are trapped inside the Pony Island program by, well, Lucifer. The evil antagonist seeks to keep you here as he has another before you, but your predecessor knows that there is a way to beat the system. Through puzzle solving, hacking and generally searching for hidden glitches, you must attempt to beat the program and, in doing so, defeat Lucifer at his own game.
The premise of “the devil” trapping you in his evil Pony Island program is as far-fetched as sane ideas in gaming could go, but this game laughs at the very prospect of sanity and sense. As you play, Lucifer hacks you back, menus fall to pieces in front of you, and at times the game simply appears impossible to work around. All of this time however, it is a hugely enjoyable and hilarious game to play. Nothing makes any real sense and the end goal or what may lie ahead is never truly clear at any time. One minute you will be jumping hurdles as a pony, the next minute you will be blasting demon heads with said-pony’s new laser eyes. It’s a pretty crazy ride through digital hell, but boy does it entertain!
The game manages all of this through seamless simplicity. There is no arsenal of controls and techniques to learn here, just pointing and clicking to solve puzzles and get around. Even the graphics, which are often in an 8-bit format, are perfectly adequate to display the game’s loose story and nonsensical nature. With traditional, retro-style audio and effects to match, you could easily believe the game was playing off a badly looked after and corrupted (in this case in more ways than one) floppy disk. Occasionally higher resolution graphics will make an appearance in the form of hands or collectible tickets, but otherwise the game has a truly classic-inspired build which suits it down to a tee.
Through all of its simplicity, the game has depth, and I don’t just mean the tickets which will surely appease any avid achievement hunter who touches this game. The length of the game is perfectly adequate to keep you entertained for a few hours, suiting its very reasonable price tag. The story, which may not be its main highlight but still carries things well, is interesting, well projected and ideally suited to the mechanics. Developer Daniel Mullins clearly started out with a strong idea and executed it to perfection. He did not try to do too much and push the game further than necessary, but he did absolutely enough to realise the final product’s full potential for maximum appeal.
Pony Island isn’t going to win any Game of the Year awards, but it is certainly worth picking up and playing. Its contents are wildly unexpected, making the game a genuinely surprising and truly brilliant experience. It is fun, which is what every game absolutely should be! If you need a game to keep you occupied one quiet Sunday afternoon, pick up Pony Island and laugh for a while. If you are looking for something new to stream or record, your audience will love it with you. This is the sort of game that people are going to get talking about and play the life out of trying to find any hidden secrets it might hold. From what I’ve seen and played, it really can’t be faulted, and I for one look forward to playing it again.
- An unexpectedly exciting and humorous story.
- Incredibly simple execution of a complex set of occurrences.
- Easy to play, using a predominantly point and click system.
- Fun, interesting and varied puzzles keep the game alive.
- Twists, turns and general craziness keep up the pace and plot.
- A decent length story considering the low price tag.
- The game does not try to do too much and fail, nor does it do too little to be worth it.
- Lots of hidden secrets, features and collectibles make it perfect for achievement hunters.
- You could easily enjoy playing the game again.
- The core focus of this game is definitely not ponies or islands…