If you haven’t heard of Pony Island, you’re missing out. At first glance, it looks like a not-very-challenging side-scroller with a retro feel. In reality, that’s not at all what you’ll get.
I met the creator of Pony Island, Daniel, last week. When he told me he made the game, I was very surprised since I had no idea the developer was based in Vancouver! Go Vancouver indies!
For Steam’s Autumn Sale, the game was a little over a dollar. I’ve only previously heard of the crazy things that go on in the game, and I really wanted to experience it myself. It’s a no-brainer at that price, so I grabbed the game.
You first find yourself in front of an old-timey arcade game called Pony Island. There’s no hand-holding, so when I realized I couldn’t press the “start” button for some reason, I tried to look in the options menu. I found a setting in there that read “fix start menu”. Aha!
Although you start off with a seemingly innocent game of jumping over fences as a unicorn, it soon becomes evident that’s not all you’re dealing with here. You’re able to exit the Pony Island game and get to an in-game desktop.
Again, there’s no instructions so I clicked around into all the files. There was a mini-game called Pony_Galaxy, some other unopenable files, and then there was a “Messenger”. Funnily enough, I had a few unread messages. And they both seemed to come from entities within the game: Lucifer and h0peles$0uL. Along the game, they’ll both tell you conflicting stories. HopelessSoul reveals that this game has tricked a staggering amount of players into selling their soul and now these lost souls are all trapped within the game. He has a plan to destroy Lucifer and help set everyone free. Lucifer, as you battle him and his creations throughout the game, urges you to think twice and hints that HopelessSoul may be lying to you.
So what should you expect? Don’t expect to be playing a side-scroller. Although jumping over fences with your unicorn is something that you’ll be doing a fair bit of, there’s a huge part of the game that’s not just that. Expect logic puzzles, some text-based adventuring, and getting fooled by the game.
I love games like this. There was a real feeling of suspense throughout my playthrough. I really wanted to find out what happens at the end, so I ended up finishing the game the night I bought it. The whole playthrough took about 3 hours and the end was very satisfying. But I know that I still have a “true ending” that I have yet to unlock.
Pony Island throws a lot of different things at you that’ll catch you off guard. Seriously, it was an amazing adventure. I hope my random screenshots are able to convey just how varied your gameplay will be. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m tiptoeing my way around a lot of the gameplay and what you’ll experience, but to truly experience Pony Island, you have to play it. Seriously, go get the game!