Up until now, I haven’t been paying a great deal of attention to Netflix’s gaming offerings. Sure, I have a subscription, but that is mainly for Spider-Man related purposes. But the recent additions and announcements have caught my attention, with Poinpy (Free) chief among them. A new game from Ojiro Fumoto, the creator of Downwell? Yes, please.
In some ways, Poinpy riffs on Downwell. In that game, you went down procedurally-generated vertical wells, dealing with enemies and obstacles while using a limited means of propulsion to control your descent. In Poinpy, you’re going up procedurally-generated vertical areas, dealing with enemies and obstacles while using a limited means of propulsion to control your ascent. In Downwell, you were encouraged to chain together combos by stomping on enemies. In Poinpy, you’re essentially forced to chain together combos by collecting fruits. You have no gun boots here, but you can thwack a mean hammer. Unfortunately, it’s not going to help you much against your main adversary.
You see, one of the very first things you do after finishing the tutorial is tick off a very large fire-breathing beast. It will follow you as you climb up, and the only way you can stave it off is by giving it a steady supply of the juice it craves. The beast’s tastes are fickle, and you’ll have to collect, at a minimum, the specific fruits it requests. But you have to collect all of the requested fruits without letting your feet touch the ground. If you don’t, you’ll have to start over again. The beast is a little impatient, and if the timer on its order expires before you fulfill it, it will express its displeasure by blanketing the area with flames. Sure, you might be able to survive it, but mess up too many times and you’re done.
I suppose I should explain how you get about, right? In fine mobile gaming tradition, you sling yourself through the air by pulling your finger back and releasing. You have a limited number of “jumps" you can perform before planting your feet on the ground, but that number will increase as you play more and get farther. There are various gimmicks in each area that will help you climb if you use them properly, and you’ll have to master when and where to propel yourself as the beast’s demands increase in complexity. Run out of hit points from being roasted or bumping into any other enemies or traps too many times and you’re done.
Progress happens in a few different ways. Within each run, you can progress to a new stage by completing a certain number of the beast’s orders. You’ll be able to pick up from the farthest stage you’ve reached, so there’s no need to repeat the earlier tasks that you’ve already proven capable of clearing. The other way you can progress is by collecting fruit. After each run, your collected fruit will go towards filling a meter. Each time you fill it, you’ll unlock something new. An extra hit point, a new ability, and so on. As such, even if you’re having trouble getting through the current area, persistence will eventually give you a number of advantages.
Once you’ve managed to complete all of the stages, you’ll unlock an endless mode that keeps the good times rolling. There’s also a puzzle mode you can unlock by finding a certain hidden area. Across all three modes, you’ve got quite a lot of game ahead of you. What’s interesting is how each of these modes requires a slightly different approach for success. In the standard mode, you might focus on gathering as many fruit as you can so that you can unlock things more quickly. The endless mode will see you focusing on survival, taking fewer risks while sating the beast. The puzzle mode requires careful planning and precise execution. Your tools remain the same, but you’re encouraged to use them in new ways. Excellent.
And really, excellence is what you can expect from Poinpy in all regards. The gameplay is compelling and challenging, simple to pick up but with satisfying depth. The game could have piggybacked on Downwell‘s distinct visual and audio stylings, but instead goes its own way to magnificent results. In terms of controls, it’s pitch-perfect. The game is enjoyable in short bursts but also offers a strong reason to keep coming back. If there was any suspicion that Ojiro Fumoto couldn’t put together another game as good as Downwell, Poinpy clears them with ease.
There are always strings, however, and Poinpy‘s are obvious. Specifically, you need to have a Netflix subscription to play the game. I imagine for many readers, that’s not going to be a problem. It’s Netflix, after all. But if you don’t have one, it’s a bit of a steep ask to subscribe just for this game alone. And if you don’t have one already, I very much imagine that you aren’t sufficiently interested in everything else Netflix has to offer. It very well may be the case that you would need to subscribe just for this one game, but Netflix is likely hoping you find other things to convince you to stay around.
It’s an Apple Arcade-like choice, but the price is fair bit higher. Is Poinpy worth that? It’s a question I can’t answer for you, but I can tell you that this is a superb mobile game. It fits the format perfectly, it’s easy and satisfying to dig into, and like Downwell it seems to give you back more the more you put into it. It’s a reason to pay attention to Netflix’s gaming initiative, and is honestly a fair bit more exciting than anything we’ve seen on Apple Arcade of late.