Hey gang, Valkor here. As much fun as I have watching and reviewing indie films, I have just as much fun playing and review indie games; and just like indie films, indie games offer up a refreshing and sometimes an entirely new experience within a genre. The 8bit, 2D era has been the playground of choice of indie developers and they’ve churned out some pretty interesting titles. The latest to cross my desk comes from Delve Interactive who has produce an interesting little game called “Poncho” that adds a little something new to a familiar 2D genre. Check it out.
In Poncho, you play as a robot named Poncho, who resides in a dystopian future void of humans and robots walk the earth. You take control of Poncho as you traverse the land to find out what happened to the humans and to find your creator. The world of Poncho looks 2D, but it’s an open world style title, which also allows you go where you like, plus it adds the ability to cross between three different parallax layers at the push of either R1 to move forward or L1 to go backwards. It's something like Phantom Breakers, but on a totally different level as you jump between fore, mid and background. And you can do this as much as you like so long as there isn’t anything in your way in either plane. The game is all about exploration and puzzle solving with no enemies to face save for the environment, which is where most of the puzzle solving comes into play. As you progress further and further into the game, the world around you becomes even more difficult for you to navigate, so you'll have to figure out how to use your ability to get by. The rest of the puzzles involve collecting gems and keys to access new areas. Each key is color-coded and specific to the gate that needs to be opened, but not all keys are in easily accessible places. Again you’ll need to figure out the land, in order to get the keys, in order to move on to new areas to ultimately reach your goal.
Playing through Poncho, I’m instantly reminded of Finding Teddy 2, which is also an open world type 2D title, heavy on exploration and puzzle solving, with action elements tossed in. And just like FT2, Poncho requires a lot of patience. But the big question is: is it worth the journey?
I really enjoyed my time with Poncho, which is an addictive, challenging and fun game that’ll push your stress levels to its limits. Controls are very simple and switching between the three planes is a smooth and seamless process that will take some getting used to, but not at all difficult to master. The start of the game and the first world you enter preps your plane switching skills, but you’ll need plenty of patience to overcome the many obstacles this world tosses at you. You might want to throw your controller a few times, but when you successfully pass a difficult level… well it feels quite refreshing. The 2D world of Poncho is amazing to look at filled with plenty of bold, bright colors and smooth animation, not just with the main character, but other characters and objects that surround him. Finally the music does a marvelous job of setting the mood, reminding you of the dystopian world you’re in, even though the graphics are a bit cheery. In the end, if you’re looking for something kinda different that offers up a challenge, then you’ll definitely want to give Poncho a try.
The same gripes I had with Finding Teddy 2, pretty much carry over with Poncho in that if you’re gonna deal with an open world, you’ll need a way to keep track of where you’ve been. Poncho is not as bad as FT2, but it can add to the frustrations when you acquire a key buy you forget where you need to use it. Secondly, there's the lack of any action that might deter others from tackling this title; with FT2, at least you get to bust some heads whilst you explore. With Poncho there really isn’t all that much to do other than solve how to traverse the terrain and get “key” items.
Poncho is available now for the PS4 as well as STEAM. And while it certainly lacks action, it makes up for it with heavy exploration and puzzle solving, plus a unique way to traverse the land. I’d recommend checking it out. And out of TOV 5 stars, I’m giving Poncho a 3.5.