Review by Jack Bankhead
Game provided by publisher
Punch Club is a unique game. Management, RPG, and adventure elements build something that can only be known as: Punch Club. However, it really is a grind to play Punch Club. Most of the time, I have to worry about energy, food, mood, and stat decay rather than some more interesting aspects of Punch Club. With a great story, really decent RPG elements, Punch Club could be great. With stat decay and frustrating mechanics, however, Punch Club can be really annoying. Its saving grace is the easy mode, story, and depth, but the grind for the normal mode is too tough.
Story goes that the main character’s dad is killed, and the hero of this story sets out to find his dad’s killer. There are many other story arcs, such as the Dark Fist story, where the main character becomes a super hero of sorts. These stories are genuinely interesting, with almost a sort of realism. While definitely not an award winning narrative, the characters are written pretty well and the story kept my attention.
The gameplay is in two parts- the daily life segments, such as training, eating, making money, and more. Second is the RPG boxing elements, complete with skill trees, stats, abilities, and battles. This is the rewarding part of Punch Club that is so hard to reach because of the grind of the daily life segments. Throughout my playthrough, I spent more time trying to level up my stats, stay healthy, and more instead of fighting and getting better skills. This is an unfortunate balancing issue that makes Punch Club much less enjoyable.
The first part is the daily life of your hero- managing his life well is the key to success. Slight problem- HE IS SO NEEDY. Wanna train? Gotta get food! Wait! I’m out of money! What do I do? The game isn’t difficult, it’s just demanding. What’s worse is that you lose your hard earned stats (strength, speed, reflexes) each day unless you train for those. The game is set in days, with never enough time. There’s currency that is so limited because you need to get food to live. But, if you can get past that…
You get the super rewarding and interesting fighting mechanics and schematics. Increase your health, stamina, get more skills, rise up the boxing club ranks, and Punch Club becomes an enjoyable game. The main problem is the fact that it takes a ton of tedious gameplay to get to these points- many may give up before then.
Each boxing match is completely automatic, but beforehand, you can choose the skills you want to use before starting up a match. Each opponent is different, so choosing your skills accordingly is important. There are skill trees to improve each ability, and winning rounds of boxing is the way to get better skills and new abilities.
The developer included a Super Easy mode, which I think is the definitive version, due to the grind being GREATLY reduced. However, the developer does not think the same as me, and as such disables achievements. There’s a hard mode, which I’m not sure how ANYONE can even survive that. Please don’t do that to yourself.
In the end, Punch Club has quite a bit going for it. The problem is the grind for the normal mode. If you can get past that, though, it becomes rewarding gameplay wise and story wise. Only buy Punch Club if you have a lot of patience. If not, spend your money elsewhere.
Reviewed on the Nintendo Switch, provided by TinyBuild
Check out our review of Knights of Pen and Paper!