Review: Pony Club (alpha 1.5.4)

Pony Club is an interactive chat room evolved from the PonyDreamMaker app, developed by the (apparently) russian team ManeQuest Project. However, the developers intend to eventually build a full Pony-themed RPG, towards which PonyDreamMaker and Pony Club are the first and second steps. They’ve got a Patreon page if you wish to give them your support, which they most certainly could use.
What about Pony Club ? It presents itself as an elaborate chat room, where players can hang out, roleplay, explore the area (it is rather small, but hides several little secrets !), solve very simple riddles (most likely a foretaste of what they will look like in the upcoming RPG) and, of course, chat. On that point, keep in mind that the developers are russian-speaking, and so is an apparent majority of players. « I beg you pardon, were you talking to me ? I do not speak russian and this is a copy- pasted sentence » is written « Извините пофалыста, вы говорите с мной ? Я не говорю по- русски, и это скопированная фраза. » and should be enough to provide an alternative to simply not answering !
I'm fabulous!
After creating an account using simply an e-mail adress and a password (no username required), your first step will be to create an avatar using the same engine as featured in the PonyDreamMaker app. It is quite complete and detailed, not unlike the old Pony Creator from the days of yore. It offers a wide selection of hair, tail and wing styles, and allows for varied three-colour patterns on all three. One might appreciate more options in the body shape personalization area, but this is only a detail and, I think, is likely to be in the works for later. Finally, the engine includes a means to save your equine’s appearance(s) and use it again later through a simple code. Once this is done, you’ve got to chose a server (I initially thought that one was Russian-speaking- based, and the other English-speaking, but apparently I was mistaken) and a nickname (any name, since there is no username), before being dropped into the playing area. Since the creators intend to create an independent RPG with its own universe, Pony Club’s art style is deliberately different from MLP : FIM’s, but I must say that I rather prefer the former’s : it is more detailed, shadows are consistent, the eyes are less oversized...
This extends to the environment, which distances itself from what you could see in the show in several ways. Said environment felt rather pleasant to me. While not being especially imaginative nor spectacular, it’s just... balanced. Not too many objects, not too few, no music but many sounds of streams, birds, campfires that really build an atmosphere without becoming overwhelming.
On the gameplay part, the game unfortunately felt a bit... Scarce. Of course, as previously stated, it doesn’t claim to be much more than an elaborate chat room at the moment, and it’s already got a few features to season the experience, such as some interactive decor elements and the aforementioned riddles. However, I must say that I expected a bit more. The gameplay area is slightly larger than it first appears, but completely exploring it doesn’t take especially long, say about an hour and a half if you really want to try everything. Once again, this may be a detail to which more attention will be given later, or simply my expecting more from the game than it really aims to achieve as a « second step », not to mention the fact that even step to is still being developed, but I got a bit bored of simply chatting for a moment. The roleplay possibilities are mostly limited to dialogue, even if several actions and emotes are available, most notably « hug » or « dance ».

Includes campfires, resting spots, and the best nap spot in the galaxy.
Nonetheless, Pony Club remains a pleasant and relaxing experience, with cute graphics and a really chill ambiance, not unlike Stardew Valley. It shares the latter’s retro, pixel-heavy graphics and lack of a defined goal, as well as a nice, careless atmosphere that puts the player at ease almost immediately. But as far as I’m concerned, I think that I await the next step even more, when the gameplay will be more complex, more challenging maybe, and the playable area larger. In a nutshell, while Pony Club isn’t complex enough yet to make me passionate about it, it does look very promising as a premise for the dev’s next project !
- Anonymous

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