To be honest, I had no idea what to expect with Pony Island. Developer, Daniel Mullins’ game Pony Island is his first game on Steam. The game actually started out as a solo project for Ludum Dare 31 for their Game Jam in 2014, and he worked on it further to try to get it Greenlit on Steam. I saw the trailer and thought to myself “Well, this looks like a fun puzzle game at least and it’s a pretty funny title”. I gave it a shot and I wasn’t disappointed.
Deceiving Title - I actually had a lot of people messaging me while playing this game, asking why was I playing something called Pony Island. I went along with a few jokes, calling it “magical” and almost like “Hello Kitty’s Island Adventure”. Needless to say, I had some interesting replies.
While the game is called Pony Island, there is nothing “magical” or “whimsical” about this 2D video game. In fact, the story is you are a person who got sucked into an arcade game called Pony Island that, let’s just say it’s not what it seems to be. With the help of a soul that has been trapped inside, you must solve puzzles and crash the game to release the souls and yourself who are trapped there.
All About the Puzzles - Mechanics are actually simple. Press the left button on your mouse to jump, and the right button is used to vanquish enemies that block your path from jumping over gates. While the game does use the keyboard, it’s only used in certain puzzles where you type out words and it will be very obvious when to use it. The puzzles vary from trying to figure out codes in the menu prompts and typing out answers, to putting certain icons in an order to move on to the next level. I loved the puzzles, they were actually pretty fun to figure out and every puzzle was different, more challenging. Towards the end, puzzled became more challenging and after a while, it was hard for me to figure out that I would sometimes have to stop and really think about the pattern the cursor was going so I could go to the next level.
WHAT AM I LOOKING AT?
Too Many Shades of Grey - The graphics themselves aren’t anything spectacular. 2D graphics and minimal colors make up Pony Island. Sometimes during the puzzles, there would be reds and blues and greens but all of it would make my eyes hurt because the blues and reds would overlap and made it seem I would need 3D glasses to be able to see the screen more clearly. Sometimes the game would flicker or there would be too much going on and it would give me a headache.
Play It Once and Never Again - There is no replayability for Pony Island. If you’re a completionist and want all 24 of the pony tickets and didn’t get them all in your first run, then maybe. Other than that, if you know all the puzzles, know what to do, then there isn’t much to do after the game is finished. No different endings, no end content, nothing to really go back and play over with.
Pony Island is actually well worth the few dollars on Steam. It’s not much for story, but the puzzles keep you on your toes. It’s really just a one time experience, if you play it again, you’re mostly going back to get items you missed. It’s still enjoyable, I got a few moments where the game broke the 4th wall and it surprised me with every puzzle. It’s even worth getting if you want some reactions from your friends asking “What the hell are you playing?”
*This review was based on the PC version of the game with a review code provided by the developer.