Switchblade Monkeys Entertainment’s Secret Ponchos is a top-down multiplayer shooter with a unique spaghetti western feel. The game was released on Steam Early Access this June, and has received a few updates since its launch.
The game describes its combat style as isometric quick-twitch fighting, a style that feels in many ways to be a completely unique genre. While gameplay is set in an isometric view, Secret Ponchos feels lot closer to a game like Quake 3 Arena than it does to many of its isometric view brethren. Combat is fast-paced and highly tactical, with victory or defeat oftentimes being a single misclick away.
Before joining a match players must select their combatant, which currently sits at 5 playable characters. Each character feels entirely unique, with different fighting styles, abilities, and weapons. Players should be able to find a character that fits their playstyle within the current cast of characters. While some classes are better at long-range combat, others may excel at medium or up-close warfare. Regardless of what character you choose though, no one class is without weakness. Balance-wise, Secret Ponchos manages to keep each class unique without making one specific character entirely overpowered.
The maps available thus far make for some enjoyable battles. Plenty of obstacles grant precious cover from bullets as they fly by the heads of you and your teammates. The whole visual experience feels quite unique. It’s as if they’ve combined a bit of the the artstyle of the Gorillaz with some comic book flair, and then threw it all together in a gritty world reminiscent of Red Dead Redemption. Needless to say, it works really well in this isometric view.
The combat in Secret Ponchos is very fast-paced. Imagine a game of Counter-Strike, but with fast respawns and an isometric view. Taking and dealing damage requires quick reflexes and sound decision making skills. Should you rush in, dual six-shooters blazing? Or maybe taking cover behind a fence while you wait for your enemy to reload is the better option. Split second decisions mean the difference between landing a kill and needing to endure a short respawn timer. Combat damage is quite high, taking only a few shots can really turn the tide of any encounter.
Secret Ponchos is a game that rewards players that practice their skills. Since everything is fast, and the stakes are high, making being able to capitalize on the mistakes of your enemies will usually result in you winning a battle. Not many games come to mind when it comes to this style of combat and view, so honing your abilities both individually and as a team will be an important aspect of this game.
Despite this being a site that exclusively covers PC games, I do feel as if the greatest potential for Secret Ponchos may indeed rest on consoles. While the game’s combat and art is truly fantastic on PC, there’s really nothing else like it available for console. I can see a fast-paced arena-style shooter like this doing quite well, especially considering its ease of use with game controllers. PS4 fans should take note of this game when it’s finally released on the console, it’s not a game to miss. With Secret Ponchos still in its Early Access phase on Steam, there’s sure to be lots more coming in the future for this ambitious game, and we can’t wait to see what that might be.
|Developer: Switchblade Monkeys||Publisher: Switchblade Monkeys||Official Website|
|Version Played: Early Access Patch 2.2||Steam Achievements: Yes (||Steam Cards: Not Yet|
|Buy on Steam|