by Emily Tofanelli
Starring an adorable robot lost in the wild, Poncho is an incredibly unique open world puzzle platformer. I love open world games as I feel like they really open a game up for the player, and help create a more immersive experience. What helps set Poncho apart is its 2D/3D characteristics. While clearly a 2D game, and a super adorable one to boot, the player is able to switch planes by hitting the up or down arrow keys. Switching planes brings to mind the 3D aspects of Super Paper Mario, albeit in a much more pixelated atmosphere.
Currently Poncho is still in Alpha, and such doesn’t have any sort of tutorial or thorough rundown beyond a brief introduction sequence. Looking through their Kickstarter page this may actually be intentional, as they state “With no hand holding to tell you where to go, it’s up to you to choose the right path.” While I was never the type of kid to pick up the game guides, and I’m still not, even if it takes me multiple minutes to figure out how to move or open my bag. However, I think I would have made an exception for this game, because oh man, I am not good at Poncho. My “death” count on level three (I’m sorry, video game gods) was hovering at 30 before I ran into a bug and got stuck in a tree, so the rest of this piece will be going off of what I experienced during my brief time with my robot friend.
The gameplay itself is, as expected, unique. Though I am just plain not good at this game, I had fun switching planes by hitting the up and down arrow keys to access treasure, or to move around obstacles. I was able to do what I believe was a double-jump multiple times on accident, but was never able to replicate it when I needed it. As Poncho is still in Alpha, I think perhaps additional moves or a movement tutorial could possibly be added in the future.
As I said earlier, this game is adorable. I’m a sucker for cute, and Poncho is definitely an endearingly cute robot of Wall-E proportions. Beyond that, though, is a truly beautiful game. The art is unique, colorful, and more detailed than you may expect for 2D. The lighting shifts in the background add a polished touch that I think others may overlook. Poncho is also accompanied by a charming and peaceful soundtrack, which soothed me quite a bit as I was constantly falling to my doom.
Something that I was really looking forward to experiencing with Poncho was the story. I definitely think this is something that will be expanded upon in further levels and as the game progresses, though I am not sure how, as there are, thus far, no characters to interact with and no narrative beyond the initial sequence. That being said, while I was not able to play Poncho for very long, it’s definitely a game I will keep an eye out for as I think it has a lot of potential, and I’m rooting for that robot!
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/emily.jpg” ] Emily Tofanelli is a freelance writer native to the Bay Area. She is a lover of RPGs, french fries, and terrible ghost-hunting shows. Her favorite games include Golden Sun, all versions of Animal Crossing, and Persona 4. She currently works in the free-to-play games industry, and can’t get enough of it. While not playing or writing about games, she can be found attempting to make her cat a YouTube star, and being incredibly inactive on Twitter. [/author]