I'm sure things have moved on, but I remain scarred by the years of profound faff.
Of games crashing. Of computers breaking in two, because I'd done something it didn't like. Of files corrupting, and work being lost, and screens getting smashed because I'd punched them. I always said that a brand new, Windows-running PC was like buying a ten year-old, second hand car... which had a family of rats living in the engine, and stains all over the back seat, that suggested somebody had died or given birth in there.
PCs were, I believed, the Devil's machines. Pony Island is that experience turned into a game. And, y'know, it turns out that it's actually pretty great when all that isn't happening for real.
Unless... it IS happening for real... DUN-DUN-DURRRRRRN! Sorry - what?
It's next to impossible to discuss anything specific about Pony Island without giving away exactly why it works.
Notably, it boasts a retro, pixel-based art style, which I'm about to praise a day after reviewing Punch Club - a game that I criticised for its retro, pixel-based art style. Thing is, unlike Punch Club, there's nothing arbitrary about Pony Island's design choices. How it looks, and how it plays, works hand in hand with the themes it sets out to explore.
It begins like a fun, cheery, kids game, before revealing itself to be something quite literally designed by the Devil, for the purpose of trapping your soul. After inadvertently hacking your way out of the main program, you find yourself attempting to outwit its creator, in a series of obtuse puzzles and twisted arcade games - while engaging directly with The Beast via some disturbing instant messages.
And that's about all that can be said without ruining Pony Island's USP: the surprises. Again and again, it will mess with your head. It will make you question why you play games, and whether it's worth it. It's quite honestly as close to being a genuinely unsettling experience as video games get: kind of our version of Paranormal Activity.
There are moments when it will genuinely make you believe you have broken free, and damaged your computer, or made contact with someone, or something, beyond its boundaries. That you have escaped the trap. This is not the case. There is no escape from Pony Island.
SCORE: 666 out of 669