Secret Ponchos began its life as a PlayStation 3 title three years ago. Switchblade Monkeys creative director Yousuf Mapara and a group of other industry friends started their company after feeling unfulfilled from their jobs at various developers. Secret Ponchos started as a simple wild west bar fight game, but one glance at the glut of concept art they had left over pushed Switchblade Monkeys to make something more. After being approached by Sony at PAX East this year, Switchblade Monkeys are now crafting one of the premiere independent titles for the PlayStation 4. Mapara described it as a "labor of love," something that came across in just how much fun it was to play.
Secret Ponchos takes place in a comic book-style wild west, inhabited by a band of 5 playable outlaws. Of course, when you have more than one outlaw in the same place in the wild west, there's only one outcome: an all-out gunfight. There is an intriguing tactical depth beyond the surface of Secret Ponchos' accessible mechanics. Players must consider the range of their weapon, and consciously reload instead of relying on an unending reserve of ammunition. And this is to say nothing of the unique primary and secondary weapons, with two firing modes, assigned to the outlaws.
As a lumbering outlaw equipped with a minigun and molotov cocktails, I could always shoot my way out of a fight, but had to avoid my opponent, whose whip could immobilize me. In another match, my flintlock rifle allowed for devastating range, but my low health pool required my teammate to act as a buffer between me and the enemy at all times. Every outlaw has a set of explosive abilities for long and short-range combat, resulting in an experience that is simultaneously twitchy and deliberate.
Secret Ponchos is the quintessential "couch multiplayer" game. Of course, players can always take the fight over the internet, but the accessible controls and mechanics, married with the high-risk tactical nature of the game, begs for pelting friends across the couch when they land a perfectly-timed bayonet lunge.
Secret Ponchos will release on the PlayStation 4 in 2014.