Review: Stroll

I know what you're thinking: "A Pinkie Pie Platformer? I've played hundreds of those. Give it a rest, already." Well, hold your horses, so to speak. Just recently, Silly Mare Games released Stroll, which strives for an artsy, open-world feel rather than following in the hoofsteps of the rest of the genre. Does it find a successful niche, or is it just a bunch of walking around? You know where to click.

In the first few minutes of playing the game, I was struck by two things. First off, the game sounds like something you might play to fall asleep: rather than the customary bouncy electro remixes of pony songs, you're greeted by soft hoofsteps, mellow nature sounds, and the whistling wind. Walking around is a relaxing experience. However, I was initially a little put off by suddenly being dropped into the sandbox - I'm the kind of gamer who purposefully walks through a dungeon picking out the tunnels least likely to be the correct path, so I can make sure I haven't missed anything before continuing. Massive open worlds are intimidating.

After walking along for a few minutes, I began to get bored. I'd already found one of the ponies hidden in the game world, and I wasn't sure what to do next. The scenery was quickly becoming repetitive, and I had already been confronted by a couple of dead ends. If you're a fan of rapid-fire action games, this is probably not your cup of tea. 

Lyra doesn't sleep the way one might expect her to.

Then, after scrambling my way up a mountainside and between several precarious floating platforms, I was rewarded with another hidden pony. At this point, the game's central mechanic became clear: find your way into the game's most secluded spots, and you'll be rewarded with ponies and other secrets. Now that I'd determined my challenge, I was hooked.

There are 11 ponies, and several more easter eggs, hidden around the surprisingly expansive map. Although there's nary a cutscene, the trek from Ponyville through the Everfree forest to the outskirts of Canterlot still feels like a journey. For those of you  who like more low-key adventuring, this game provides a meditative experience: I certainly didn't expect to spend as long with it as I did, although I'm not disclosing the amount of time.

Here's the bottom line: this game doesn't possess universal appeal, and some of you will quickly find you'd rather spend time on something else. However, it's unique among the fan games I've played, and I expect it to win itself many charmed fans. Final verdict: 7/10.

- Arctic Lux

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