Secret Ponchos is a rooting tooting top down PvP online shooter currently in Early Access on Steam. Developed by Switchblade Monkeys, from my first look at the trailer I couldn’t wait to get hands on with this game. From the moment I pressed play and the spaghetti westernised music started playing I was hooked. The unique stylised art design was on show front and centre as I chose and named my outlaw, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in, a few weeks later and I still can’t wait to get really stuck in.
For a game that’s all about PvP, not being able to get into a game can be rather problematic, especially if you’re trying to write a preview. Over the past month or so I have managed to get a few games in, but the lack of online players sure hasn’t made it easy. No doubt with the full release, that won’t be a problem.
So first off you’ll have to chose what type of outlaw you want to be. From the Stone Cold Killer with a revolver and knife, to the recently added Matador complete with cape and Sword, the 5 classes currently available are all rather varied. The individual design and personality really shines through and a lot of thought has been put into creating these characters, although a little more needs to be done when it comes to balancing their abilities. Some characters currently feel really overpowered. Whilst I’m sure that tweeks will be made all the way up until Ponchos gets it’s full release, it can be frustrating to constantly go up against the same characters time after time as other players are looking for the easy victory.
The arenas for these duels are also looking mighty fine. From the eery Boneyard, to the bright sun drenched Train Wreck, just as much care has gone into their creation as the characters and its adds real atmosphere to the game. I’m really looking forward to seeing what else the small team can come up with as I’m sure they will be making additions to the 4 maps currently on offer.
Secret Ponchos plays well and although support for playing with keyboard and mouse has been added, controllers are clearly the way its been designed to play. Left stick moves your outlaw whilst right stick aims, add to that a dash ability and a rudimentary cover mechanic and you start to get an idea of how the game plays. I really like the idea of the cover mechanic, pressing A lets you hunker down behind an object which breaks the line of sight from your opponents making you vanish off their screen. It’s a great idea however in reality opponents just tend to rush you and makes it’s use rather limited at the minute.
Secret Ponchos undoubtedly has promise by the spittoon full, and I’m sure that if more people were playing it would be an absolute hoot. However Steam metrics are currently showing at it’s busiest just over 70 people were playing at any one time add to that an average of 21 players daily, and you start to get a picture of why I’ve been finding it hard to get hands on game time. The devs are clearly aware of this and have gone so far as to recommend certain times to play, but for anyone on this side of the pond the times just aren’t feasible.
Whilst I’ve been playing the PC version, the PS4 game was originally due to release for free as part of Aprils PS+ line-up. It was confirmed to Polygon that the delay was for more thorough testing and polishing, but no new release date has been announced as of yet. Maybe once that version is out of the way the PC version can take centre stage and the game can flourish and achieve it’s full potential.
Secret Ponchos is available on Steam Early Access priced at £10.99 and can be found HERE