Poi is a charming and adorable 3D-platformer which pays homage to classics such as Super Mario 64 and Sonic Adventure 2. Players will take on the role of unnamed child orphans and are tasked with helping an old man, known as the Master Explorer, with collecting his lost “Explorer medallions”. You will have to run, jump, and roll your way through various obstacles and enemies in your efforts to collect all 101 explorer medallions.
Excellent controls – One of the first things that you will notice when playing Poi are the brilliant controls the game offers. As stated, Poi pays homage to the classic platformers such as Super Mario 64, due to this the control scheme is pretty much identical. Movement and jumping is precise, responsive and easy to control. Additionally, there are many various forms of jumping mechanics offered to navigate through obstacles such as utilizing a cartwheel jump or double jump. The use of the double jump allows seamless control in the air, allowing perfect coordination when landing on small or moving platforms which makes platforming an enjoyable experience.
Abundance of content – Initially upon discovering that there were only 4 worlds, each with 7 explorer medallions to collect, the fear of a lack of content was going to be a major problem. However, the fear quickly diminishes as you progress further into the game. Even though the hub world, known as “The Sky” is pretty barren with only a few locations that can be ventured to, it eventually becomes populated with various activities to complete when more explorer medallions have been collected. These activities offer enjoyable mini-games and challenge maps. Additionally, there are also various items that can be bought from the shop using collected coins.These items can range from a compass to locate collectibles such as fossils or sightseeing locations to extra health or even a shovel that allows players to dig in certain spots. If the promise of 4 worlds, purchasable upgrades and items and various activities isn’t enough, there are also two additional bonus worlds which become available as explorer medallions are collected.
Level design – Poi’s level design is charming, adorable and pleasant to look at as every single world has their own thematic environment. Throughout Poi the player will experience various terrain from the harsh desert of the Shifting Sands filled with cacti and dangerous quicksand to the cold Snowland covered in slippery ice and snow. Each environment is brought to life with the addition of a day and night cycle, NPCs and indigenous wildlife, making each world dynamic. All worlds are built intricately and with meticulous attention to detail but they also have simplicity. The simplicity of the level design will rarely see players getting lost and many of the areas are linked together thus allowing easy access to all parts of the world. Various signposting methods are also used to direct the player in the correct direction if they ever get lost. For example, upon loading a specific level for a world, the game will then show a cut-scene to indicate the main areas of interest in order to gain an explorer medallion.
Repetitive music – The music in Poi is splendid as most tracks are upbeat and impeccably fits in with the joyful environment of the game. However, each world seems to only have one main soundtrack. As you spend a lot of time exploring the world, you will be collecting explorer medallions, looking for fossil dig sites, obtaining golden gears and visiting all locations. The endlessly looped over music depreciates the music itself. There are a few instances of alternative music being played during certain quests, but these instances are few and far between.
No challenge/lack of difficulty – Whilst Poi may be directed at the casual gamer or the younger audience, there is no doubt that the game is too easy. Many of the quests which reward explorer medallions can easily be obtained within minutes of starting a quest. Mini-games which require the completion of an obstacle course give the player too much time to work with, even with many mistakes and on the hard setting the player can easily complete the mini games. Challenge maps which provide an alternative source of explorer medallions are also relatively quick and challenge-free. Most can be completed in 20 seconds or less. Additionally, throughout the game, there are only 4 bosses to fight. Each boss is uninspired and is simply a bigger version of the generic enemies encountered in the world. Most bosses are simply beaten by kicking objects or jumping on their head 3 times. The bosses are dreary and monotonous with no real passion behind them thus makes them a chore to fight.
Unpolished/glitchy – The player is bound to experience many glitches often resulting in the closure of the game. One such glitch caused the player character to be locked into place upon re-spawning after death. Furthermore, hit boxes for enemies, namely the mole-type enemies and the flame traps, appear to be extremely unpolished and random which causes the player character to easily get hit and lose a heart despite not touching the enemies’ hit-box at all. On other occasions, the music would abruptly cut off or enemies would disappear randomly. Most glitches that were experienced didn’t really change the flow of the game or detract much from it, but it’s obviously something which has been overlooked and may need to be fixed in the future.
Poi is a good example of a charming platformer which effectively invokes the spirit of the old-time classics such as Super Mario 64. Whilst it may seem as a poor imitation, Poi does in fact go above by introducing various new mechanics to the formula. Although Poi is an excellent platformer, it does have its drawbacks in the music department and the number of glitches one may experience. Even though these glitches do not decrease the enjoyment but it may vary from player to player.
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Poi was developed and published by PolyKid as part of the ID@Xbox program. The game released on Xbox One [reviewed] and PC on March 1st, 2017. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.
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