Pony Island Uses Steam In One Of The Coolest Ways

Pony Island Uses Steam In One Of The Coolest Ways

If you haven’t played Pony Island, chances are you might have seen someone on your friends list playing or someone talking about the game somewhere. It’s a quirky, cool game that likes to subvert your expectations — in more ways than one.


If you haven’t played the game, some major spoilers are about to follow. If you haven’t played the game yet, close the window and turn back. Or something. Pony Island costs less than $10 and you’ll get a few hours of fun, and you shouldn’t ruin it for yourself.

But if you don’t mind me doing that, then carry on below. (There’s no spoilers in the screenshots, in case you’re worried.)

As you play through the arcade machine from hell, you’ll eventually uncover the three steps you need to do to rescue yourself and all the other souls trapped inside Satantech’s diabolical platformer.

To escape, a fellow soul within the game says you have to delete three core files that will unshackle everyone from “HIS” power. The core files, called daemons, are named after Hell-like creatures and they have personalities and different challenges of their own.

By far and away my favourite was Asmodeus, a creature that asks you a series of questions while prompting you to pay attention to him at all times. If you get any of the questions wrong, you have to start over, although the game is wonderfully generous with checkpoints and the solutions are a simple matter of maintaining your focus.

I played through the game on the weekend with my girlfriend and the Steam controller — the latter of which worked perfectly using a default Valve configuration, although it probably added another hour to our playtime — and we couldn’t help but giggle when Asmodeus asked us to type in “something dirty”.

“There are no wrong answers,” we were told. After a quick deliberation, we opted to run with my better half’s preferred brand of filth.

I won’t share what was typed. I don’t want to get fired.

But while Asmodeus made some soft jabs, the best part was a notification that came up in the bottom right of the screen — where I’ve set Steam messages and notifications to appear. It was a message from someone on my friend’s list. They were aghast: they couldn’t believe I’d type something so filthy.

The graphics were so on point that I ran back into my bedroom to check my main PC — which was turned on, and also logged into Steam — to see if the message came through on both machines. It hadn’t, of course, because it was a fake message.

I’d already had a Steam notification come up earlier from someone inviting me to a game of CS:GO, so the trick sold me completely. Pulling from an actual friend on my list was incredibly meta, even if the game doesn’t double down by finding a way to get the Steam dialogue box to pop up on the Steam overlay as well.

It’s just one Pony Island’s subversive tricks, but for me and my girlfriend it was undoubtedly the coolest. Now we’ll just have to wait and see how many other indies — or even AAA titles — dig into Steam’s API to pull the same move.


  • Trying to be clever, I typed “ponies” as my answer. I got a message saying “Seriously? Ponies?”, but I legitimately thought they were giving me shit about playing a game called Pony Island. I think I would have caught on quicker if it had been some obscure (filthy) thing.

  • I played through the game on the weekend with my girlfriend and the Steam controller — the latter of which worked perfectly using a default Valve configuration…

    the way this is written sorta implies that your girlfriend doesn’t work well with the default valve configuration. which is…. kinda understandable.

    • Wouldn’t that be the case if I wrote the former, not the latter?

      Edit: Ah, I see what you’re getting at now.

        • By saying “the latter of which worked perfectly”, it could be read as implying the Steam controller was fine but his gf was not so perfect? I think that’s what the OP was getting at. It’s pretty subtle though and I don’t think many would have come to that conclusion.

          • (Further clarification – because steam is reffered to as ‘latter’ this makes his gf the ‘former’ and the proceeding statement in these types of analogies is usually something that is true for the latter, but not the former)

          • Ah … yes … THANK YOU. The analogy being, that neither was working initially, but the latter (the controller) worked once default Valve configuration was applied, resulting in a non-working girlfriend.

            Humour works much better when it doesn’t require that much explanation! (Thanks again!)

          • You’re welcome :3 It can be tricky to infer what people mean online without the aid of ‘tone’ emphasizing key words.

            And to be fair, Alex did not intend to imply that his gf wasn’t compatible with steam, and so the correct way to read that particular paragraph is with nothing about the former being implied by the sentence about the latter (hope that makes sense!)

      • I think the real question is which one were you playing the game with and which one was beside you watching?

  • That steam notification trick is the only time I’ve ever been 100% fooled by a game that did something meta. The fake not responding didn’t get me. None of the crashing things from Undertale or other games got me. I always just remarked “oh that’s neat” and went on without being tricked or anything. But when I got asked to type something, I put “ur butt” and I got a message saying “lol” from my girlfriend. And then the messages kept coming and I thought that it legitimately sent a message to her and now she was laughing that I said “ur butt” and I was playing a game called Pony Island. I was starting to get suspicious about it but I felt the feeling of “oh shit it just sent that” for a few long seconds.

  • When Asmodeus asked me to say something disgusting, I said “kill yourself” (in my local language). This phrase was quite popular in the Polish internet for quite a while (yes I’m a Pole), but I have fallen for the trick regardless. I just felt awkward as hell.

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