bhlaab's Poi (PC) review

Avatar image for bhlaab

Good for Kids, Okay for Adults

Poi is a 3D platformer in the style of Super Mario 64. It's a Unity engine game where the end credits are about 30 seconds long and begins with "Created By Ben & Paul" before listing off a handful of contracted sound designers. By that metric Poi is really really good. However, in the real world where there are 50,000 games competing for your attention released on Steam every day, it gets slightly harder to justify.

It's a very slight game. There are only four 'major' worlds, each one about the size of a Mario 64 map. There are also two mini-worlds, a handful of minigames, about 10 challenge courses, and a final gauntlet. There are 101 medallions (this game's version of 'stars') but a good half of them are obtained through repetitive milestone tasks such as digging up fossils or defeating 500 enemies throughout the game rather than actual, in-level missions.

That slightness also extends to the game's presentation. The story of Poi is such: You are a generic child who loves adventure. One day an old man asks you if you want to go on an adventure. You go on an adventure with the old man to find an artifact. You find it. The end. There's no hook, not even any cartoon villain to foil. The graphics are nicely realized-- there's nothing to complain about, but there's also nothing that sticks out. It's all very generically cute-- nothing more, nothing less. The music is generically orchestral without ever really creating any sort of mood. I've said generic a lot, and that's because Poi feels like it lacks a central identity. You're playing a mascot platformer without a mascot; there's nothing to attach yourself to.

I've made a lot of comparisons to Super Mario 64, and it should be noted that Poi really wants to be Super Mario 64. The moveset is very similar, with a triple-jump, a sticky wall jump, and even the side-flip jump. The tightropes from Mario Sunshine appear, and there's even an unnecessary, tacked-on segment where you're on a spherical planetoid for all of 3 minutes. Its collect-a-thon elements are light compared to the Rareware breed of platformers, and the levels are roughly the size of Mario 64's maps rather than the behemoths found in Yooka-Laylee, etc. With there only being four major levels and a handful of bonus areas, it certainly feels like a paired-down version of Mario 64 that only goes up to Snowman's Land and ends after the first Bowser fight. That model would also reflect Poi's difficulty curve. It's an extremely easy game, to the extent that I'd say it's, "for babies." 100%ing the game, which I did, offered no challenge whatsoever. Mario games are often pretty good about offering a spectrum of challenges and have enough personality that even the easy stuff is at least charming. I enjoyed playing Poi, it's pretty relaxing, but I would have liked to have been taxed a little bit here and charmed a bit there.

There's only one thing about Poi I would say is outright bad, however, and that's the lack of an attack move. Even Mario can punch, spin, or shoot water. In Poi you can jump on enemies' heads or roll into them. The roll didn't work most of the time, leaving only head-bopping. This is not ideal in a 3D platformer. What's worse is that many enemies will throw objects at you in arcs that will knock you out of the sky as you're trying to jump on them. It's annoying. Other enemies' attacks have poor collision, resulting in cheap hits. There are a few boss fights in the game, and they're all pretty terrible and come across as half-assed. Two of them involve kicking objects back at them, which is extremely awkward to try and aim. Dealing with enemies in Poi is just sloppy, but it's not a huge enough part of the game for it to matter too much.

And that's sort of the deal with Poi. Other than the issues with enemies and boss fights it's a solidly put together game. There weren't any apparent bugs, the player control is solid and trustworthy, and it doesn't look cheaply put together. All of this is in spite of being made largely by two people. They did a very good job. On the other hand Poi doesn't do much to go above and beyond being a solidly put together kid's platformer. It's lacking in personality and presence and it doesn't have it in itself to provide challenge for the over-ten-years-old set.

The game's also on Switch. If you know a child who has already beaten Mario, they might love Poi. If you're a grown ass adult who is into 3D platformers you might like it, but not love it.

Other reviews for Poi (PC)

    Video Review: Poi 0

    You know that one game where you run around various worlds jumping on bad guys and collecting coins? You know the one! Where the character can triple jump, wall jump, ECT. It's Poi of course! Wait, what game were you thinking of?Video Review HereThe Giant Bomb review requirements say I need to have at least 100 words.....so...how was your day? Mine was alright....I tried to play a game called "Eaten Alive" and it didn't go well...so there's that...here's the video of that trainwreck if you're in...

    2 out of 3 found this review helpful.

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.