Punch Club is a boxing management game, featuring a branching storyline as you eat, sleep and train your way to the top of the boxing world. Does Punch Club deliver a knockout blow? Read our review to find out…
Fighting games are pretty much straightforward affairs. Mash buttons for combos, beat opponent and hopefully win. Rinse and repeat until you win the game. Easy enough right? Well, now we have Punch Club, which takes the fighting genre and combines it with the management simulator genre to form a totally unique experience. But the question remains; is it any good?
From a personal stance, I’m not a fan of the beat em up genre, although I’ve dipped into Killer Instinct on the odd occasion. But management simulators I have enjoyed throughout the years, as there is something relaxing about allocating resources, and watching your empire grow in games such as Sim City, Tropico, Settlers and Civilisation Revolution. Punch Club on the other hand, honestly didn’t grab me.
You start off with your guy, and there is a dark moment about his past which pushes him to become a fighter. For spoilers reasons, I won’t discuss that. Then you meet Mike and start to unlock new areas on your map and meet new people giving you more to do. As you do this, you will quickly realise that Punch Club relies heavily on pop culture references, rather than focus on its own reason for existence. A nice touch for sure, but it does get stale after a while.
My main gripe, was that there was very little to do aside from work to earn money, which in turn I had to spend on pizza to stave his hunger, then sleep to regain energy. I got fights in obviously, but the majority was the former and this quickly became a dull as ditch water experience. Throw in stat decay, and my time spent working out at the gym felt like a waste of time as I somehow managed to squeeze in more time to get them back up.
What the game does offer in terms of depth is actually impressive. Plenty of skills to unlock, whether you choose the Way of the (insert animal name here), or check your in game stats, plenty of locations on your map. Punch Club does an excellent job of giving you plenty of choice. Unfortunately, this is the highlight of the game.
Fights consist of a possible 10 rounds, whereby you sit and watch your screen as the combatants duke it out. There is no actual input here, and the skills you choose to assign your hero dictate to a degree how the fight progress. Low stamina? You will likely lose. Low strength? You’re not going to do much damage. See where I’m going? The 80’s theme along with the audio is a nice retro touch, but again, the music becomes annoying fairly quickly.