Secret Ponchos has changed a lot in the full year since I last saw it. I actually played it at PAX last year, and the game went on to earn a PlayStation 4 announcement, a slot at E3 and a whole lot of hype.
This top-down twin stick shooter offers a unique aesthetic, challenging play and a competitive multiplayer ranking system that, as Switchblade Monkeys hopes, will create a really diverse and active community.
We played the game splitscreen and online, something that’s especially sweet. Secret Ponchos runs at 60FPS on the PlayStation 4, and that stays stable even during splitscreen online play. The game was buttery smooth on the PAX East floor, and that was something that the team was certainly proud of.
You’ll choose from several cowboy heroes and heroines before you dive into battle. I personally picked Kid Red and Killer. We banged out two quick rounds of deathmatch over the course of around 20 minutes. Aiming happens on the right stick, while running occurs on the left. Each character has a unique primary and secondary weapon that you’ll swap between constantly during combat.
Kid Red sports a quick fire revolver and sticks of dynamite. Killer has a slow six shooter that requires precision aim to use. However, in true trade-off fashion, landing good hits does tons of damage. Killer also has a sweet knife that stuns and can be steered once flung away.
I’ll admit it: I was terrible at this game. It wasn’t the kind of terrible that felt like I was being cheated or the game was broken. I was terrible because the combat is actually challenging. It’s tough to go toe-to-toe with other players while worrying about gun style, secondary munitions and waiting for cool down. It’s the type of challenging that most gamers will find rewarding, and that’s why I’m excited for it.
It’s been generating a ton of buzz since its unveiling over a year ago. I personally place that on the dark and deadly wild west aesthetic that the game presents. There’s an immediate hook to Secret Ponchos that draws folks in, and that felt especially present on the show floor at PAX East. The convention had literally just begun, and people were crowding around in waves.
Now, I say the game has changed a lot, and I can confirm that my initial impressions were spot-on thanks to Yousuf Mapara. I chatted with Yousuf, the Creative Director and President, while playing.
Secret Ponchos made the switch from PC to PlayStation 4 last. Then the team decided to scrap their original engine and start from scratch. They had to rebuild the game in doing so. Now? Now, they’re heading back to the PC and are porting the game over for a Steam Early Access release.
That’s right, before the game hits the PlayStation 4 in its currently fall targeted window, you’ll be able to hop onto Steam and play it through Early Access. That, according to Yousuf, is happening just six weeks from today.
We’ll be following this one closely, so stay tuned.