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PS4 Game Review
Poncho is a small poncho wearing robot who wakes after the end of the world. His maker hides a message which he finds, claiming that something has been hidden inside of Poncho and if he can get it to his creator humanity will be saved...
Poncho is a 2D side scrolling platformer which allows you to transition between foreground, middle, and background layers, as viewed from the player’s perspective. The game is published by Rising Star Games, developed by Delve Interactive and is an indie release.
You progress through the game picking up small red pips and the keys required to open doors and solve puzzles, the pips can be used to purchase keys, but as the game progresses they become prohibitively expensive.
One of Poncho’s great selling point can also be one of its most frustrating. In order to traverse between levels, which are supposedly nearer to you, you need to press the right button; the left shifts you to a level further away, only it doesn’t always seem to work, leaving you stranded unable to progress.
Initially, there seemed no logic to this, the preceding level from where you came is roughly at the same height and anyway Poncho can jump a little. The little bugger won’t even die properly allowing respawning at an earlier point. What you eventually discover is that the system does require you to jump to a particular height to make the transitions. Fine once you understand this, but it still made little sense in making the player physically jump a character that has the ability to jump. It added little to the puzzle element and a lot to the frustrations.
Graphically the game harkens back to the good old days of 8-bit computers. The retro themed picture is bright with deliberate pixilation. The game eases you in and the mechanics seem straight forward but as the game progresses, and platforms which move in and out of the screen arrive, you realise that, while each layer has its own unique puzzle combination, a lot of them require very precise movements and timed jumps.
Unfortunately, for the game, it’s to a required level of skill I realised I neither possessed nor was I willing to go over the same puzzle time and again for what seemed little reward, just to progress to another similar looking screen. What looks like an easy retro game soon becomes, for some, a frustrating experience.
Poncho also suffers from a lack of differentiation in level content. You will find yourself traversing screen after screen of similar content. There are some more differences later in the game, but that all relies on you wanting to make it that far.
I think that the game is likely to split fans. If you like very precise game play with a retro feel and don’t care that levels are overly similar, then you’re likely to get a lot of fun out of the game. On the other hand if you feel the reward for your efforts is low or you just don’t have the reflexes for this type of game then you’re going to find it a frustrating experience.
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