Poncho (PC) Review

By Thom Compton 26.12.2015

Review for Poncho on PC

Playing with different perspectives is an age-old technique used in games to impact the depth (no pun intended) of every environment. From Paper Mario to Fez, titles that utilise different perspectives can be very deep, and very daring. Enter Poncho, a product that essentially forgoes the use of the 3D to 2D variant most of these games use, in lieu of using the background to allow for a more zoom-in like approach. Can the technique be enough to really separate this from its brethren and make it a stand up title? After being rather disappointed by the PlayStation 4 version, Cubed3 takes a look at the PC edition to see if it performs any better.

Poncho starts off with plenty of potential, introducing its plane swapping in a very easy to grasp kind of way. Essentially, the player can move into the foreground and the background, meaning they will need to monitor multiple orientations on the screen in order to get past segments and solve the puzzles, somewhat akin to Mutant Mudds. It's very much a novel approach to the idea, and starts off pretty fun and adventurous.

It doesn't hold up for very long, though, and eventually degrades into being much more frustrating than it is exciting. The platforming sections involve switching planes in the middle of platforms doing the same. This could have led to some very interesting platforming; however, because there is no recognisable rhythm to the moving platforms, it becomes more frustrating than even remotely fun. The game features a lot of this type of play and it runs the gambit from fairly fun to either mundane or insanely annoying.

Screenshot for Poncho on PC

This could all be forgiven, but the controls handle poorly. Timing the shifting between layers is meant to be incredibly precise at certain moments, and these moments are extremely tiresome when the timing is unpredictable. Factor in the relatively simple, yet heavy and cumbersome controls, and it's easy to see why the gameplay suffers. Jumping and general movement seem to work fine, but trying to jump and swap, only to be obliterated by a column that wasn't previously there doesn't give the player the same feeling of accomplishment on the other side. It feels more like a "Finally, that's over!"

Poncho definitely resorts to the retro look, but it manages to retain a look of its own at the same time. The robots almost appear like Mayan statues, and the environments look much crisper than perhaps a SNES classic. It's nice, and it really gives the game its own personality, beyond the normal "retro" styled releases. The sound tends to be more grating than anything, however. It's very minimalist, but due to the frequencies chosen for certain sounds, it leaves a throbbing sensation in the back of the head. It's painful at its worst, and irritating at its best.

This seems to be indicative of the whole experience. Poncho has a few highlights hidden within, but the moments that test the nerves are not only common, but repeated almost to death. Its repetitive and frequently unfair gameplay belies its truly interesting concept and its willingness to try something different. It is a shame to see such a good mechanic and interesting art put to waste due to haphazard controls (it's not even the controls, the character just seems so heavy) and puzzles that require some sort of profound understanding of the movement of objects with no discernible pattern.

Screenshot for Poncho on PC

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

For everything that Poncho is, it still remains stagnant. The interesting idea of an apocalyptic scenario not filled with zombies is met with great artwork. However, it soon gets humbled, and the gameplay that follows is somewhat painful to play. Understanding the mechanic of swapping between layers is simple enough, but understanding how the world works around it is arduous, and at the end of it all, leaves a bad taste in the gamer's mouth.

Developer

Delve

Publisher

Rising Star Games

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

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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