Poncho (PlayStation 4) Review

By Albert Lichi 19.11.2015

Review for Poncho on PlayStation 4

Indie game developers are easily synonymous, these days, for 2D platformers with strong pixel art. It is no surprise that the craft of simple, yet beautiful, pixel art is more or less perfected at this point, since indie game designers have been honing the art since Daisuke Pixel's Cave Story changed the indie landscape forever. It is such a versatile recipe that is open for other designers to interpret and inject their own artistic flair. The 2D platformer has proven to be a genre that is limitless in its potential, whether it is an old-school throwback, like Shovel Knight, or meta action game, like Adventures of Pip. Enter Poncho, the new pixelated 2D platformer from Delve Interactive, which sets out to carve its place in the annals of indie side-scrollers, with its parallax hopping mechanics. Can a lone gimmick be enough to set Poncho apart from the vastness of 2D indie platformers?

Poncho begins simple enough, with a robot waking up after the end of the world has happened. Much of the game is centred on figuring out what happened to human kind and journeying into the unknown. Along the way, the protagonist will encounter a few NPCs, but the game is pretty much wide open to explore, with no hand holding. This "no hands on" approach from the designers is refreshing and encourages lots of exploration and experimentation with the various abilities that are found à la Metroid. Aside from the various power-ups, which can be obtained in multiple orders, Poncho's core gameplay mechanic is the shifting to the parallel planes in the background, middle ground or foreground. The meat of this game is navigating and using the parallax, hoping to progress, since the level design is very much in itself a puzzle. There are some pretty choice moments in Poncho thanks to the wide gamut of level design that is full of varying platforms and jumps, even if it does not exactly have a graceful flow.

Much like Fez, do not expect much resistance while playing Poncho. This is more about the experience and less about skill, since it has no punishment for failure at all, and missing a jump simply respawns the protagonist to the last stable platform (sometimes). The idea of this was to probably make Poncho more accessible and low-stress as possible, while focusing on puzzles and platforming. The results for this are mixed, since this ultimately leads to the game becoming pretty boring, at times, and since the focus is centred on puzzles, progress is frequently halted by a gauntlet of paralleling platforms or vanishing floors.

Screenshot for Poncho on PlayStation 4

Poncho can be a bit like Xeodrifter, but with a lot more game-breaking bugs and glitches. Sadly, the bugs appear very frequently and can utterly break it, which will require a game reset or reboot. The most common occurring glitch in Poncho is the worst one, where, upon respawn, the protagonist will be stuck in an infinite fall loop over a bottomless pit. It must be stressed just how common and frequent this bug occurs because it highlights a lack of play-testing. A glitch this serious should have been rectified, especially since it can cause huge amounts of time to be wasted. Poncho is not a long game, either, but thanks to this game-breaking bug, it can easily artificially lengthen the play time through undeserved restarts.

Poncho definitely had a lot of care put into the visuals, and its Studio Ghibli-esque colours and quirky designs, but, sometimes, the core gameplay revolving around the parallax layers doesn't work the way it should. For example, some of the backgrounds can become very busy and it becomes difficult to determine what is a layer that can be traversed and what cannot. This will lead to quite a few misjudged jumps to death, which, in turn, have a chance of inducing the everlasting bug that prevents the game from continuing. It is heart-breaking that Poncho is so broken, since it seems like it could have been a righteous game, if a bit derivative. Hopefully, Delve Interactive will see to it that this gets patched one day, and will be playable without it unravelling. Until then, Poncho cannot be recommended.

Screenshot for Poncho on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 4 out of 10


Poncho needs work before anybody should consider purchasing it. There is a strong attempt with this title, since the designers do not arbitrarily drag the user by the nose and let them freely explore the world. The whole game is just completely undermined by the bugs, which can be fixed. Gamers who are curious about Poncho should approach with caution and be ready to restart their sessions frequently. When it works, it's a solid game; it is just a question of if it will work or not.




Rising Star Games


2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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