Poinpy is the new game from the creator of Downwell. That single sentence alone is all that really needs to be said, but since that would make this post look a little silly, let me expand further. A common joke lobbed at Ojiro Fumoto, Downwell’s creator, is that he should make Upwell. Well, Poinpy kind of IS Upwell. Yes part of that is because you are going up in the game, but more than that Poinpy takes a relatively simple overall game concept and injects it with additional layers that elevate it to something spectacular, just as its predecessor Downwell did a number of years ago.
First let’s look at that simple overall concept: You travel upwards through each level by way of the pull-back-and-slingshot method that works so well on the touchscreen. A big, adorable, and somehow still menacing monster is chasing you from the bottom of the screen, and the only way to keep it at bay is to feed it juice. Thankfully fruit are scattered throughout each level, so if you can collect the correct fruits in the order the monster is requesting you can satisfy the monster and continue your journey upwards.
It’s a perfectly fine concept for a mobile game, but the magic is really in the small mechanical details. In Downwell you had a limited number of shots from your gunboots, but they’d be recharged by bopping an enemy. Naturally one of the big drives in the game is to see how high a combo you can pull off by continually finding enemies to bop and refilling your boot ammo. Well, Poinpy does almost the same thing. You have a limited number of slingshot jumps you can do (which can increase by leveling up), but you can also do a butt stomp move, and if you can butt stomp on a passing enemy or one of the many pots or vases lying about, you can give yourself another jump.
I think you see where this is going. Much in the same way Downwell is filled with moments where you’ll miraculously find some enemy to kill and recharge your shots and against all odds keep a combo going and somehow save yourself from disaster, that sort of thing happens in Poinpy all the time. Once you get the rhythm of the jumping and butt stomping, you kind of have a “see the Matrix” moment with where enemies and pots are placed, and you can sort of on-the-fly plan your routes that will not only satisfy the juice recipe of the moment but also allow you to collect tons of additional fruits which go towards increasing your combos and bonuses.
This is key because, again much like Downwell, there’s an overarching progression system in Poinpy that sees you unlocking a bunch of bonus items and abilities as you slowly level up by completing runs. It is so SO satisfying to pull off a cool combo, or to be leaping through the air and off the walls looking like things aren’t going to end well only to somehow make your way to an enemy or pot and turn things around into a fruitful (pun intended) combo. I hesitate to use this word due to its cliche status, but it is addictive as all get out. There’s probably even more I could talk about, but I’ll let our 5 star review fill in any of the gaps here.
You likely know this by now, but Poinpy is part of the Netflix Games library, which means you need an active Netflix subscription in order to play it. A lot of you likely already have that, so this is effectively a really really really good free game. Some of you might not have Netflix, and maybe don’t ever want to have it, which means that’s a barrier to accessing the game, which I have some thoughts about. But for now, just taking Poinpy for the game it is and not considering any of the Netflix stuff, it’s hard to imagine a more brilliant follow-up to one of the more brilliant indie games of the past decade, which is impressive to say the least.