Poi Review (PS4, 2017)

Quick review because I think this game deserves some recognition. Maybe I just missed the discussions, but as far as I remember nobody on the internet talked about this one and there aren't many videos about it on youtube either.

Poi is largely a clone of Super Mario 64 with some elements of Sunshine sprinkled in. You play as either a boy or girl on an adventure to help a retired man to collect his medals that he lost - there really isn't much of a story here, but the game doesn't need one anyways. It's a pure 3D platformer with 5 worlds, all relatively small and not as overblown as the kingdoms in Mario Odyssey. There's 7 medals to obtain in each world requiring you to complete small challenges. Most of these are all about platforming, but there's also one for collecting gems (money) and one for finding hidden artifacts.

Visit a stage by traveling on a flying boat
Or explore the hub with your parachute

The graphics and music aren't much to write home about. They fulfill their purpose, but don't stand out much. For a game made by a very small team of a handful of people at most (if I remember correctly) it wouldn't be fair to criticize the art. It looks a bit stale, but it's not an ugly game and the music is alright even if not particularly memorable.

Don't let the simple graphics fool you, the game is really fun

Compared to games of its kind developed by big companies the controls aren't as polished. This sounds worse than it is in practice, it just means you need to get accustomed to the way Poi plays. After a while you don't really notice it anymore and it plays almost as smooth as any Mario game. There's a good variety of moves to give many options for solving all the platformig situations. Nothing new to any of them, but that didn't stop me from enjoying this game. Your character can roll for a short speedboost, chain that one either into running or doing a long jump. Similar to some Mario games your character can leap forward in mid-air to cover some extra distance.
What I loved about this game is that the challenges are all straight to the point and that the stages are just the right size to be all about platforming without feeling too small. Each stage has its own feel to it in terms of atmosphere and gameplay, which is very welcome for a game of this scope - there's more variety to it than one might think. Inspired by Mario 64 there's 120 medals to collect in total. Sadly a big portion of those comes from mini challenge stages and general requirements to the sort of "jump a few thousand times". This game would be a real gem if there were a few more main stages. As is it's really rather short and can be beaten in a couple of hours. That's fine to me because I prefer shorter games over longer one's, but some content of Poi feels a it like filler that would have felt better to have a few more stages instead.

Fans of Super Mario 64, especially those that find Mario Odyssey to be a bit "too much", should consider giving Poi a shot. It's a fun little game brimming with platforming that doesn't waste much time on narrations and scripted events.