Survival of the prettiest
It's been a few weeks since I've played a survival game, so I decided to find a new one. On Steam, listed under the Survival tag, I spotted Pony World 3. Though I've never played Pony World 1 or 2, and I'm not up on Pony World lore or history, I decided to give it a shot. It turned out to be one of the toughest and grimmest survival games I've ever played.
I design my pony for survival, making him all green to blend in with dense foliage. I also cleverly choose to wear a blanket, figuring I might need it for warmth, though I'm a little sad it covers the enormous tribal tattoo I've put on my butt. I name him Slayer. I am ready.
The Green Wastes
I jump right into Free Play, expecting a DayZ type world where I'm not constrained by fabricated goals or directives. I'm not disappointed. It's a barren wasteland, though quite grassy. I have a health bar and a hunger meter, so this is definitely a survival game. There's also a hygiene meter. I'm going to have to stay clean and pretty to survive. So pretty.
I find a small town nearby, where survivors have been rebuilding their lives. I meet a pony named Emily and decide to talk to her about ponies. Emily doesn't like talking about ponies, and our relationship becomes strained. I understand. To be honest, I don't like talking about ponies either. Too many painful memories.
I find a pharmacy. Excellent. True comfort is hard to come by in the post-pony apocalypse—just ask Emily. It's unfortunate, but sometimes we're forced to turn to drugs. Boo-boos run deep, deeper than a band-aid can heal, but sometimes it's enough to get you by.
Night falls, as does rain. Through the gloom I spot a police station. I know from my time in DayZ it's a good place to find weapons... and a great place to get killed. While I don't find weapons, I leave in one piece. I was lucky. This time.
Still got my looks
By morning my food meter is down to zero, my health meter hovers at 15%. Thank the pony gods I'm still 66% a cute widdle fwuffy pwetty pony, though. This harsh life takes all you have to give, and more. But I'm still cute and fwuffy, goddammit, and I plan to stay that way... even if someone has to die.
I need food. I head into the woods. I find a mushroom but can't seem to eat it... or maybe I did eat it. It's the only thing that could possibly explain why the ground is flickering and textures are missing... right?
I head back to my starting area to do some crafting. After accidentally placing a couple expensive stables and then removing them, I realize I've burned through most of my bankroll. I can only afford to build a pumpkin patch, an apple tree, some fencing, and an umbrella. It's not much, but it's a start.
I try to get a job as a waiter at a restaurant in town. They won't let me. I'm too tired. Far too tired to serve yummy biscuits and piping hot tea to pretty ponies.
Yes, so tired. Soon, I will sleep. Soon.
It takes a few days but my pumpkins finally grow. I eat all three of them. It only restores 30% of my food meter. My health bar is still empty, and my hygiene bar reached zero a while ago but I didn't want to tell you. I didn't want you to know I'm no longer pwetty and fwuffy. I'm dirty, filthy. I'm not a pwetty pony. Forgive me. This world has taken that from me. It's taken everything.
The coast is toast
I visit a beach, hoping it will take my mind off things, or things off my mind. There is no solace there. It is void, it is limbo, it is nothing, but the other ponies seem not to notice. What is happening to me? Is this the end of all things, the breaking of the world? El-ahrairah! El-ahrairah! The Shining Wire!
Okay, that's Lord of the Rings mixed with some rabbit lore, but I don't know any pony lore.
Back in town. It's so bright. Hyper-bright, too colorful, can't trust it. Can't trust town it's not real it can't be real. No one here is real. I see Emily, the pony who doesn't like to talk about ponies. "YOU'RE NOT REAL!" I scream at her before clip-clopping off. A distant icon on a roof beckons, calls.
A building with an unblinking eye atop it. Submit. Submit to the Watcher who sees all ponies, all ponies prancing forever. I become stuck in the activation circle, unable to move. Trapped. Like a fly, or in this case, like a pony. A circle drew me to a circle.
Broken, all broken
I remember I can teleport, like all ponies. Doing so upsets my UI, which detaches from the bottom of the frame and now hovers mid-screen. I can barely see myself. The message is clear. The focus on my food meter, health bar, and pwettyometer has rendered me, the real me, Slayer The Pony, invisible. Worthless. A ghost. I wander away.
There is no end
There is not even death in this world. There is only un-life. The white abyss cracks open beneath my hooves and yet the cruelty is that it does not swallow me. It only smiles.
Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.