Pony Friends: Review

Some review, I* did in my spare time

The gaming industry, for better or worse, enjoys comparing themselves to the movie industry. Call it insecurity, call it a benchmark, but for years now we’ve heard talk of the need to make games more “cinematic”. From the old FMV games, to the deluge of cut-scenes, it can be argued that games have never quite achieved that goal of completely weaving quality gameplay with the cinematic feel of Hollywood movies.

In development for the better part of a decade, Pony Friends, despite some significant flaws, is a definitely positive step in reaching that cinematic sweet spot. From the engrossing introduction and opening credits, to the suggestive epilogue, Pony Friends does a great job of finally making the player feel as though he is playing through a Hollywood blockbuster. But as would be expected, it often does so at the expense of the game.

Yes, Pony Friends is a short - and quite easy - horse FPS. The entire adventure will last you only six to seven hours, and there is no replay value to speak of. Furthermore, the path from beginning to end is incredibly linear, allowing for little improvisation or exploration. Despite this, it can be argued that the length of the game is necessarily short to keep the player focused on the story, and that would be an argument I could accept. From start to finish, I never lost sight of the goal: find the pink tailbrush and vanquish the threat of the hoof-infections. I didn’t have to worry about countless subquests, complicated side plots, or the back-stories of a half dozen playable characters. I was a disillusioned Pony rearer, thrown into a conspirational web of horseflies and saddle-thieves.

While the developers did a great job of keeping the story moving, there were a few glaring problems. First, the question of who keeps stealing and misplacing various pony-based items is never fully resolved, leaving the player with more questions than answers. Secondly, the races, while being charged with the kind of kinetic thrill that made Days Of Thunder such an exciting experience, don't offer a huge amount of reward. Upon winning, you're given only a moment to bask in the glory of victory before the harsh reality of life on the farm brings you back down with a crunch.

Which brings me to my next point:the photography sections. Riding through the various trails and environments whilst trying to snap pics of the hidden wildlife is reminiscent of Dead Rising and Bioshock (both of which appear to have taken their inspiration from Pony Friends) but lacks the research bonuses that those games offer.

It’s hard to completely fault Pony Friends for its brevity as making it longer could certainly have jeopardized the effectiveness of its story. That being said, it’s clear that Pony Friends doesn’t completely achieve the proper balance of game and story. Whether it’s the fact that the pony cannot die, or that you can't fully interfere with the various gophers and beagles you find on your travels, Pony Friends leads the player by the nose to the end and despite a decent finish, it certainly doesn’t provide much satisfaction. (10/10)

*By "I" I actually mean, someone else**

**By someone else*** I mean one of the many sessile organisms that filter feed in the recesses of our comments section



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