Poi Reviews

Titanium Dragon
Titanium Dragon
TSA Score for this game: 397
Posted on 06 March 17 at 23:13
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Poi is a 3D platformer which is reminiscent of the platformers of the mid to late 1990s in many ways. Unfortunately, while it may imitate the control scheme of some of those games, what it lacks is heart.

Poi has a pretty standard control scheme – you run, you can double jump, you can roll on the ground, and there’s a triple jump in the game which reminds me of Super Mario 64. You can grab onto the side of platforms and pull yourself up, and there are some climbable grates which look rather like chain link fences.

The controls are okay, though they always feel ever so slightly awkward, likely because of the camera, which in many ways also feels like it is from the 1990s. The camera doesn’t really feel very good, and at times forced camera angles make seeing what you’re doing a bit awkward. You always feel a little bit slippery, a problem some of the older 3D platformers had, and it is annoying to jump on enemies’ heads at times and sometimes hard to judge jump distances as a result of the controls.

In terms of the game itself, there are four major world areas, plus a handful of smaller areas that aren’t world-like but are large enough that they constitute an “area”. There are also a number of challenge levels, which are simply platforming puzzles which are fairly arbitrary and show off some central obstacle. There is a gliding mechanic, which you use to navigate the hub world area, as well as a handful of gliding challenge puzzles. According to the in-game timer, it took me about 10 hours to 100% the entire game, and that was with me running around and quite thoroughly exploring the various areas.

So it isn’t tiny, but it isn’t really all that long, either, and it FEELS small.

Unfortunately, this game falls down in one very major department: it is very bland. Like many of the late 1990s games, this is ultimately a collect-a-thon – your goal is to collect 101 explorer medallions, some of which are goals similar to the stars in Mario 64, where your goal is to navigate to them or complete some challenge to make them appear, with the level giving you the option of which one to pursue every time you enter the level.

But this only constitutes a very small fraction of the overall medallions in the game – only 28 of them, including the ones you get for collecting 100 coins within a level. There are about a dozen more in the smaller “world-like” areas, and from there, the challenges ultimately feel increasingly arbitrary. There are a pretty large number of them gotten from going to every location in the game, digging up every fossil, and collecting all 50 “golden gears” in the game (of which about half are found in the world-like areas).

Ultimately, the game feels very gamey, and not in a good way. The challenges often feel arbitrary, and the levels not only don’t feel particularly organic, but they look kind of unappealing. While each area has a central aesthetic, the game never looks cool at all – instead, the whole thing feels vaguely cheap, and the game doesn’t really have much of a “look”. The enemies don’t feel very iconic, and the levels themselves are very obviously just set up as a series of obstacles. And while this is true of all games, and indeed, many games like Mario 64 were pretty blatant about it, this game somehow feels more egregious in its gamishness. It is never overly difficult, but whenever I’m going through an area I’m left with the feeling that it is just something someone designed for me to jump through rather than a place, and the challenges almost always have a feeling of artifice to them. The first area of the game feels the most organic, with them feeling increasingly less so over time, and then everything outside of those four worlds feel like they are just entire arbitrary constructs.

It lacks character. There’s nothing interesting about the characters in it (what few there are), and the game ultimately feels like it lack any real identity of its own, and instead just feels like a bunch of stuff that was set up to be obstacles for the player.

It is impressive that such a small team made a game in this day and age – a fairly sophisticated 3D one, no less – but at the same time, I’m just left at the end of it with a feeling that the whole thing was a cheap knock-off. I can’t think of a single thing in the game I hadn’t seen before many times, and done better elsewhere, and that makes it very hard to recommend.
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