Secret Ponchos – Early Access preview

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Switchblade Monkeys, developer of Secret Ponchos, had one hell of a vision when creating this product. Originally developed for the PlayStation 4, a number of fans who sampled the game wondered if it would be ported to PC. Lo’ and behold! Secret Ponchos made its way to STEAM Greenlight and made it to Early Access format. This 3rd-person isometric shooter holds the same angling as action-RPGs, like the Diablo franchise, but with the Spaghetti Western backdrop.

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Out of the seven intended characters you can play, there are currently five available: Killer, Kid Red, Phantom Poncho, Deserter, and The Matador (which was released in early August). Each of these characters have an attitude ripped from a Tarantino-film, individual weapons and skills like in Team Fortress, and a design aesthetic born from a Gorillaz album. After you’ve decided on a character, the menu screen has them sitting at an empty saloon, close-up and waiting for the next fight. Similar to MOBAs (like League of Legends), each of these characters are intended to have alternate skins for use in battle allowing players to show off a different side to their destructive flair. If anyone is curious, the art for Secret Ponchos is a collaborative effort between design veterans Jose Lopez, and Daryl Mandryk.

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There is a lot of style that went into this game, whether it’s the camera angles in the menu screen, the character select, the PvP arenas, or even the Tarantino-inspired Western music. To get down to the gameplay of this game, it lacks any kind of single-player aspect; it even lacks a backstory. The only thing you’re given is the flavor text to describe their archetype and in this town, that’s all you’ll get! While the game caters to a mouse and keyboard, the gameplay doesn’t seem natural the way Diablo 3 and Path of Exile use those controls. Instead, like the Diablo 3 port to PlayStation 4, the design is definitely geared for the PlayStation controller. Using one joystick to move and the other to aim, plugging in a controller for STEAM is a necessity to be agile in this PvP-only game.

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During PvP, you will quickly find that each character has a certain amount of bullets with their corresponding weapon. Yes, that means you will need to spend time reloading. Like any pause to a game, this demands that players be careful with what the choose to do and in what direction. When I tried to run-and-gun, it was easy to find myself on the losing end. Losing does have consequences! Everyone has a Bounty price on them, but everyone starts off at $0. You rise and fall in your rank against others based on your wins and losses. Aside from reloading times you can also dash or leap a limited number of times to close-in or get-away from your opponents.

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The drawbacks to the Early Access system for STEAM is the limited amount of people to engage. While many STEAM players mostly engage the products that pop-up on the front page, Secret Ponchos can easily get buried in the multitude of games being developed nowadays. Yet many people agree, when it picks up, this game is addictive! However, since this is a game that requires a population, it may suffer the same limitations that TitanFall has.

Secret Ponchos is looking to have full release between Fall of 2014 to Early 2015. When everything is set, this is an eight-player showdown that’s worth a shot! But you don’t have to take my word for it.

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Jaynesis Ong
Jaynesis Ong 162 posts

He is currently a graphics designer by trade, illustrator for indie games, fashionisto, film production assistant, socialite, sampler of fine music, and taster of various new MMO games. JB likes destructive walks on the beach, visceral plot points, maniacal villains, and collapsing galactic empires.

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