Have You Played… Pony Island?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I will fight to the death anyone who tries to stop Pony Island entering the RPS Advent Calendar this Christmas. This extraordinary oddity could potentially be misunderstood as a gag, when it is in fact one of the cleverest, most peculiar and splendidly delivered games of the year.

This exploration of jumping unicorns, Brechtian estrangement and Satanically possessed gaming succeeds on all fronts, and despite having puzzles based around “hacking” the game’s own code, thank the Lord isn’t yet another game that wants you to be a game programmer to play it.

It’s so many levels deep, so funny, so unsettling, and so completely strange, that I promise it’s not like anything else you’ve played. And most importantly, it’s clever too. Cleverer than you think it’s being. I deliberately called this “the smartest game of 2016” on the 5th January. I think that may still be holding up.

It’s but £4 for all this, so it’d be madness not to buy it.

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19 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    subdog says:

    Pony Island has destroyed friendships.

  2. Replikant says:

    Played it when my GPU died, because it was the only game left with acceptable performance on my ten-year-old replacement card. Turns out, acceptable performance is not enough. I dare anyone to play Pony-island with 5 fps.

    Rant aside, the game is kind of funny, but it does become repetitive at times.

  3. kwyjibo says:

    I played it over a few hours this Halloween. It’s interesting and clever, but progress feels like a grind.

  4. sleepisthebrotherofdeath says:

    HAIL SATAN!

  5. April March says:

    I played it this weekend. I can’t believe you’re still watching me, John.

  6. Sarfrin says:

    It’s still on my hard drive. I feel bad.

  7. kode says:

    Yeah, I liked it, a few of the tickets (I collected them all, did the secret ending and so on) were tricky. I guess the pony jumping fences and blowing away butterflies game wasn’t supposed to actually be fun, but I must admit I kinda liked it anyhow. The soundtrack is really good too, very fitting to the game.

    But well, after beating it I uninstalled… :)

  8. Premium User Badge

    basilisk says:

    I have played it and it was… alright?

    Can’t really join the hyperbolic praise. It’s fine. The concept is not earth-shatteringly original (anyone played, say, Alphaland?), but it’s done well. There was one bit that I thought was fairly clever. And one bit that I found pretty annoying. The rest of it was okay.

    Certainly doesn’t qualify for my personal game of the year, though.

  9. Premium User Badge

    caff says:

    I have played it. And I loved it.

  10. Premium User Badge

    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    Yeah I bought it after you demanded everyone do so. I enjoyed it. Nice way to spend an evening. I always like little surprise games that pop out of nowhere.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Arnvidr says:

    I have not played it, but I bought it in the Halloween sale, so I guess I will?

  12. Drib says:

    This article reminded me that I wanted to play this thing. It’s been sitting on my hard drive for months now, unplayed.

    I suppose I ought to give it a shot.

  13. zsd says:

    Played it and thoroughly enjoyed it.

  14. sosolidshoe says:

    Based on how it’s been described by everyone I know and the youtubers I watch who’ve played it, it doesn’t sound “clever” so much as “insufferably smug”. Or, as one pal put it, “a narrative that crawls so far up its own arse it can lick its own tongue”.

    Pass.

  15. epressman617 says:

    I oppose this game being part of the calendar, and I accept your challenge. Swords. At dawn.

  16. Emeraude says:

    I will fight to the death anyone who tries to stop Pony Island entering the RPS Advent Calendar this Christmas.

    Which weapon for the duels though?

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