December 7, 2019 at 9:58 PM #755
Rating: 3.5 – Good
Punch! Kick! Chop! Block!
Punch Club is an 8-bit fighting simulator developed by tinyBuild Games. Punch Club revolves around building your character up the underground fight club food chain by training your skills in order to beat your opponents in mano e mano combat. It is the perfect mix between grind, gain, and glory- something that not many games nowadays can achieve. I’m looking at you, Rockstar!
As you play through the story, you may notice your opponents getting tougher with every fight. Trust me, this isn’t because you suck, but rather your Character Stats are not that high.
There are three types of stats you can hone- Strength, Agility, and Stamina. Strength allows you to tank through opponent’s hits, and return a bigger hit when it is your turn. Agility is based on quick attacks that whittle down at your opponent’s Health Points (HP). Stamina is how much you can attack and how much pain you absorb when you block.
Each stat has it’s own skill tree progression system. Once you unlock the majority of the basic combat skills, you can dedicate yourself to building a single stat, and become stronger indefinitely! These trees require many skill points to progress through, so much training and grinding is at hand on harder difficulties.
Speaking of difficulties, there are 3 different modes- Easy, Normal, and Hard. On Easy, enemies are much easier to fight and training is much quicker, but you won’t earn Playstation trophies from playing on this difficulty. Normal is the best way to experience Punch Club. It toughens up the fighters and they scale with your character, so there will always be a challenge in every fight. Hard is pure hell. Other fighters are far more powerful than you and can make your climb through the leagues a disaster.
Eating and sleeping is also a vital part of survival. Your character has to consistently eat food in order to work out and fight. Failure to do so will result in a massive drop in health and stamina, and your attacks will be far more weak. Sleeping has the same effect as eating. You can purchase more food from Apu’s liquor store, which is oddly the best place to shop around town. There are also Pizza Parlors to satisfy your Italian cravings, at a price of course.
Punch Club starts off with your character’s backstory, a flashback to your childhood where your father has passed away and your brother has led a separate life. Your goal is to find your brother, and make a living from the underground fight clubs.
Upon learning the basic game mechanics, you are greeted with a nice fight with two bikers who throw out a witty Terminator reference and promptly kick your character’s arse! There is no way to win the fight, so you may as well give up. Once you lose, a hooded man named Mick introduces himself and is impressed by your hand to hand combat skills for some reason. He offers to take care of you under one condition- you fight in his friend’s fighting tournament.
Graphics and Sounds
The graphics are an homage to the era of the movie "Fight Club", featuring an 8-bit filter and an optional retro arcade filter on top of that. The game runs at a solid 30 frames per second, but everything is 8-bit so it shouldn’t matter much if and when it drops. The soundtrack is similar to Rocky Balboa’s theme from the Rocky movies, and fits the game very well. Each fight usually has the same combat theme, but certain bosses and encounters have a unique track that plays to fit the theme.
All tracks are originally composed by the developers, and they did a fine job.
Play Time and Replayability
My first playthrough of Punch Club was on Easy mode, as I didn’t really feel I would enjoy the game. It took me roughly 50 hours, including the hours spent training to build my character for end-game. I can only imagine how long it would take to play on Hard mode, haha. Punch Club also has many side quests that can take up your time, and give you reason to pick it up again. You can also replay the game to experiment with new stats, or go for the 3 different endings, which are Good, Neutral, and Bad.
Game mechanics-wise, Punch Club is a fairly bland game, with no original game features. Story and gameplay-wise, Punch Club is a digital masterpiece, for only 10 dollars on the Playstation Store. I would recommend picking this game up if you enjoy a long grind with a good reward, or 8-bit-type games in general. I would not recommend this title if you lack the required patience to play through the game on higher difficulties, or at all. In the end, Punch Club is still a fairly decent game for the concept and price, worthy of purchasing as a topper to your cart or on sale. I rate Punch Club 5/10, for it lacks original game ideas and is basically another 2-D turn-based fighting game, and could use a little more spice to the story. Other than that, this game is good, and I recommend you try it before you buy it, or see some gameplay first.
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