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Exploration Puzzle Platformer PONCHO Released DRM Free And On Steam

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PONCHO is an open-world puzzle platformer where you control a robot who is able to flip between parallax layers. The game was released on the Humble Store and Steam this week, and I've taken a look at it.

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Developer Delve Interactive ran a Kickstarter campaign last year to fund development of the game. When the campaign was unsuccessful and that option fell through, TRI publisher Rising Star Games stepped in and helped realize the project.

As mentioned, PONCHO is an open-world platformer, and as you open up different worlds, you're free to switch between them from a level select screen, where you can also track what you've collected and what remains to be found. Some paths will initially be closed, but as you acquire new skills and find keys, new paths are opened up for you to explore. Each world also have lots of gems to be found, and there's a shady dealer who will let you trade them for keys, if you can locate him. There are other collectibles as well, but they won't be available from the start.

You can hop between three dimensional layers at will, provided there's nothing blocking you on the layer you want to go to. Levels are designed so that you have to be a bit clever about how you move around in them, and you often have to switch a bit back and forth between layers, and often mid-jump. It's not always possible to see whether there's a platform to land on in a different layer, which means you will sometimes have to make a leap of faith to figure out where to go. If you die though, you re-spawn on the platform you jumped from, and it happens quickly, so I didn't find it to be an annoyance. Walking on platforms in the distance isn't a problem either, since if there's an obstacle in front, it will become semi-transparent, so that you can see where you walk. There are also platforms which jump between dimensions, and using these can be a bit of a challenge. Some of them just go back and forth on their own accord, while others only move when you jump to a different layer.

The game hasn't been without technical issues though, as I've been struggling a bit with a screen resolution issue. There's no windowed mode, and when I first started the game it was set to a resolution that didn't fit my screen. What's worse is that a couple of times when I've started the game, it has launched in very strange resolutions, like 44388x1366 and 20x1366. This might be a result of me messing with a config file to force windowed mode, but it seems odd to me that it should have this side effect. I didn't experience any issues in my last session with the game though, so it's possible that the issue was addressed in the latest patch to the game. What's still a bit wonky is that sometimes when you die, your player character will re-spawn inside an obstacle, killing him off a couple of more times before he finally re-spawns in a safe location. It's not a huge issue for me, but a bit of an annoyance nevertheless.

Apart from these issues though, I'm having a blast with the game, and so far it's living up to my expectations and more. As I've mentioned before, I'm a huge fan of open-world puzzlers, and there really aren't many of these kinds of games. If this sounds interesting, you can buy PONCHO from the Humble Store and Steam. Buying from Humble will give you a Steam key.

About the game (from Steam)
A robot, a poncho and a journey of discovery! Make your way through this wonderful world of pixelated parallax platforming to solve the ultimate puzzle: who is Poncho?

The world is ruined; mankind is gone and all that remains are robots. But for Poncho, the adventure is just beginning! Explore an open world full of colourful characters, leaping between parallax layers to overcome obstacles and solve puzzles. Can you make it to the Red Tower, meet your Maker and ultimately save humanity?

  • A 2D world with 3D thinking! Use brains as well as platforming skill, moving back and forth through Poncho's world as well as left and right to progress.
  • Discover new challenges around every corner: platforms that move when you do, areas that switch from 3D to 2D and back again, shifting walls, seemingly impossible ascents and much more!
  • Behold, the Junkyard King! Help restore his court of loyal subjects and you might just win the favour of robotic royalty.
  • Gorgeous pixel graphics mix with clever gameplay and a catchy soundtrack to create a retro-style experience that's truly unique!
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About the author -
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A big fan of platformers, puzzle games, point-and-click adventures and niche indie games.

I run the Hidden Linux Gems group on Steam, where we highlight good indie games for Linux that we feel deserve more attention.
See more from me
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Kam Nov 5, 2015
Looks like fez, doesn't it?
MayeulC Nov 5, 2015
Quoting: KamLooks like fez, doesn't it?
Sure, but it looks also unplayable without some kind of 3D glasses :)
Just kidding... But the video wasn't very clear on this point, and I've had a hard time discriminating layers.

Are they using SDL2? or some other graphics toolkit?
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