Punch Club review
Lazy Bear Studios
Surely the first rule of Punch Club is that you don't talk about Punch Club.
Except, with a launch determined by a "Twitch plays Punch Club" stream(the game launched earlier than expected, on the 8th January) and an article by one tinyBuild article declaring Punch Club didn't need press, it seems like everyone's been talking about it for the past couple of weeks.
The second rule of Punch Club is "please stick to just punches."
Except, your character spends almost as much time kicking folk as throwing haymakers. A regular street-fightin' man as you attempt to leather everyone in your quest to be the best that no-one ever was.
Maybe some rules are supposed to be broken.
Punch Club is an odd beast, a tycoon game filled with pixel art and colourful little orbs weaving around the screen as you attempt to become the world's best boxer. You're also on a mission to avenge your old man, an incredible boxer who met his fatal weakness: bullets.
Who shot him? Why did they shoot him? Only punching holds the answer.
Thematically, Punch Club is pretty silly. Whether it's iconic stoner duo Jay and Silent Bob bouncing outside the convenience store or a pizza deliver to a sewer dwelling not-teenage-mutant-hero-turtle, there's tons of references and humour.
Spotting these little details became a strong secondary attraction: Sly Stallone looking down at me from a pixelated Cobra painting, not-Tyler-Durden sends you on a mission to find his brother, Not-Mickey-from-Snatch. These references are a giggle if you've spent the majority of your 26 years on earth absorbing as much pop culture as you can find, but ultimately it's more of a "I see what you did there" then genuinely amusing.
Away from the theme, what does the game offer?
You're basically playing "boxing career simulator" and it's your job to keep your fighter fed, rested and healthy before he steps into the ring. Sadly, money don't grow on trees and you'll need plenty of it to buy food, go to the gym and also get the bus to go places.
This means you have to work, which in turn uses time you should be using to train and prevent your skills degrading. Before you know it you're living to work rather than working to live and you're trying to keep 40 plates spinning on your path to smashing heads.
After a while I realised I was spending my real life work-day living the life of a wannabe boxer but instead of a seductive life of sports cars and biting ears, I was just trying to sleep well, eat right and find time to go to the gym.
Because your protagonist can actually get worse if you fail to do this things it's important to keep your routine in place, and this cripples experimentation.