Developed by Lazy Bear Games and published by tinyBuild Games, Punch Club is a sporting management simulation based around fighting. The game lovingly references many action movies from the 80s & 90s such as Rocky & Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The game opens showing the main character as a boy seeing his father killed by a mysterious man in black. Jump forward in time & the boy is now all grown up. He is looking to do his father proud by continuing his training to be the best fighter in the league. All this while trying to find out just who killed his father.
Punch Club is all about managing your in-game time to become the strongest fighter while working to earn money, meeting people & following clues to solve the murder of your father. The clock is the biggest restriction in the game. As you move around the city, work, train, sleep, eat etc. it will tick away. How you manage it & what tasks you choose to do are entirely up to you.
There are three primary attributes to focus on to become the best fighter possible. Strength, agility & stamina. Each attribute begins at one & are improved by exercising or working. However, tasks affect a number of other attributes, namely hunger, tiredness & happiness. The more you exercise or work the lower these attributes become meaning you have to carefully balance what you’re doing. If he becomes too hungry or tired, he will be unable to exercise or work.
To build them back up you can buy food to eat, sleep at home or watch TV for entertainment. However, these tasks chip away at your daily timer & once an in-game day passes your primary attributes will drop.
It’s all about managing what primary attributes you work on. Getting a balanced fighter is no easy task & it’s advisable that you focus on one core attribute such as strength or agility. Once you get the hang of it, it’s fairly simple & provided you don’t get injured in a fight you’ll be able to make significant progress while ensuring your boxer is well fed & happy.
The other main part of the game involves actual fighting in both official bouts, unsanctioned fights & dealing with dangerous street thugs. Here you equip your fighter with skills unlocked as the game progresses. These are very limited at first but as fights are won & lost coins are earned that can be spent on unlocking more.
Once you’ve selected your skills the fight will start & your fighter will be controlled by the AI. It fights using the skills you’ve selected & every round you can swap them out/change things up. Once you or your opponent’s health drops to zero the fight is over. Win fights & you’ll progress up the rankings taking on tougher opponents each time.
While the game is story driven most of the quests are actually optional & you can play the game at your own pace & as you see fit. It’s a lot of fun, it looks & sounds great but is also incredibly addictive even if it can be a tad frustrating at times.
The speed in which your primary attributes drops can be a bit disheartening. It’s no easy task to balance earning money to eat while keeping up the training regime. However, it never feels unfair & eventually you’ll find that progression in training is easier to balance while never suffering the effects of hunger or tiredness.
Punch Club is a fantastic effort within the management simulation sub-genre of gaming. Offering addictive gameplay with retro visuals, plenty of tongue in cheek movie references & a fight system that showcases progression perfectly. Well worth your money.