Secret Ponchos is a very simple game. It works by pitting players against each other in teams of 3v3 (or 2v2 in unranked play), the players then choose characters to play with, each having their own abilities and weapons. These different ‘outlaws’ all have their own personality and simple backstory fitting in with the western theme of the game.
But while all this sounds easy enough, in practice the game has massive depth. Each outlaw reacts with other outlaws in different ways, creating an interesting system of counters and compliments. Each outlaw also has different benefits depending on the map being played, on a map with lots of available cover, a melee outlaw will outplay a ranged one and so on…
The numerous possibilities of the game really do make it something interesting and the objectives do allow for a lot of experimentation. Whether its a free-for-all, an arena deathmatch or just a team deathmatch where you must achieve five more kills than the enemy. These create very intense scenarios for you to play out and I was often on the edge of my seat or screaming at my monitor when I was playing.
Secret Ponchos also includes a crude upgrade system, allowing you to designate points to various different stats. Levels are gained by earning reputation, in the form of dollars. Meaning it can be lost as well as modified depending on the type of opponents you are playing. Facing higher level players will reward more reputation
This is where we run in to the first major problem with the game. With the stat boosts higher-level players have, matchmaking needs to be on point. However the community for the game is so small that it often takes a few minutes to even find a game and then the players it finds may be so massively above or below you that it makes for a really unfair game. It really is a shame because with a larger community, Secret Ponchos could really turn around to be a very competitive game with many different metas and experimentation happening however it just isn’t there at the moment.
There also some PC specific issues. Things like no mouse-control in the menus and the move list only being available in-game are really not excusable. There are also some polish issues with the camera sometimes clipping through the environment when a match ending kill happens.
This game really is something special. I’ve no doubt that this could turn in to a regular competitive game for many players out there. It just has so much depth and numerous possibilities with an irresistible charm. However the severe lack of community the game suffers from really does hinder the experience. Some polish is needed here and there but it is worth checking out if you feel it would interest you. Just make sure to keep an eye on the player stats before buying.
Check out me and Jesse playing the game for the first time on stream:
This game was reviewed on PC (Steam) with the most recent patch as of writing. The developer supplied review code and no crashes or severe bugs were experienced, however one bug was found in an earlier build of the game which has since been eliminated.