The Nardio Review
Is Punch Club worth your time?
What should I play Punch Club on:
Whatever you do, don’t play Punch Club on iOS. Taps regularly were nowhere near as responsive as they should have been. Maybe try this on the PC, but honestly, this game really isn’t fun enough to justify the $5.00 iOS price let alone the $10.00 Steam asking price.
How it Plays and Why it Fails:
I’ve spent a couple of hours on Punch Club and found myself hating the experience so much it was making me cranky and bitter. Honestly Punch Club feels half done and half assed. It has so much potential, but it felt like it was rushed out before it was play tested. The iOS build is buggy and crashy. I tried to like Punch Club. I really tried. I stopped playing near 300 days in. Honestly though I only put in that much time in for this review. After giving up I cannot bring myself to pick it back up again.
I never felt invested in the character or world of Punch Club. It spends so much time winking and nodding to other games that it never develops itself or its characters. When I unlocked the ability fall in love later in the game I had hope some plot would develop, but it was a huge let down. Chat, buy gifts, fall in love then get some boosts. Then it turns into another meter in game to manage (more on meters later). Huge let down. My trainer is another huge wasted opportunity. In the beginning he hands out much needed food and no advice, later on he stops handing out food but is still totally useless for any sort of information. This leads to another huge problem of Punch Club: A total lack of player direction and a broken gameplay system.
A good long while into playing Punch Club you will receive a magazine that will tell you about the three different types of skills you can level: Strength, Agility and Stamina. Say hello to your meters. It tells you it’s best to choose one and maximize that to win. Don’t try to level all three and you will be fine. That is some weird advice considering that you need to have certain stats at certain levels before you can unlock new abilities. It also makes the Agility gate that you will find much later in the game feel all the more broken and stupid. Want to reach rank 1 in game with strength? Ha no. Been spending all your time upping your strength and a bit of Stamina to try and make it to the top? Well you can’t beat the game that way. Why? Because fuck you that’s why. With the strength build you will find yourself missing insanely often. Heck you won’t even be swinging that often. You’ll just stand there taking abuse and occasionally throw a few hits only to miss most of them. I found after unlocking my fourth attack slot my energy was depleting insanely fast no matter what skill I put there. Unfortunately there is no option to not use that slot to conserve energy. Why? Well you know.
I found when grinding work to save money for home gym equipment that I’d get mugged every single time I went to go buy new equipment. While riding the bus. It’s not like I was walking around with a few hundred dollars. Nope. The bus would dump me off on the other side of town so that I would get mugged. Why? Because fuck you that’s why. This happened three times and I managed to fight off the muggers each time. I was told by my last mugger that it wouldn’t happen anymore. I also was invited to meet the boss who then proceeded to beat my ass in a fight I wasn’t expecting. Which felt like another Fuck You to me from the dev with a smile. Any how to make matters worse I found when I did level up a bit I couldn’t go back to fight him again until the plot allowed me to do so. Why? Because. The final slap in the face with this whole mugger mess was a few hours later I get a phone call from my manager warning me to be careful about going around town with money because I might get mugged.
Fights feel more like luck since the exact same build can win against an opponent that it’s lost to two times before. Punch Club is not about player skill, but following the preset workable skills and grinding like a mad man. I think it would have felt better if I had some sort of control in what was going on, but Punch Club doesn’t give you any. You grind stats, watch the fight and the rest is computer generated luck. What makes this suck even more is there is no fast forward button. Nope. Even when you are mercilessly being pounded you have no option to just quit.
I found myself thinking about every part of this game that feels wrong. I found myself hating so many parts of the game it became a joke session as my girlfriend sat next to me and watched me play. Punch Club plays like a shallow game that was designed to make progression super slow and tedious so it seems deeper and more complex than it actually is. As I found myself hating the game I checked steam to look up reviews and found that most people seemed to have realized agility is the stat to grind if you want to progress through the game. Anything else and you are screwed or a masochist. This really upset me and put me off from coming back to the game. I just don’t have it in me to spend more days grinding in the game for a stat I thought I could avoid grinding. I just don’t. I have better things to do and honestly I’ve found myself hating it way too much.
Can grinding to change your stats really be that bad? Yes. Every single day a random amount of your progress in every stat will be deducted from your progress. I absolutely hate losing my progress every day no matter what. It’s like the makers of this game never worked out before. The nonsensical overly punishing stat loss that you get every day is infuriating. This along with your limited time to actually work out makes Punch Club feel more punishing. Doing this every day in game, while managing my meters, eating right and then getting to the number 3 spot only to be beaten horribly while my character doesn’t even try to block was infuriating. This is the much hated Agility wall that the developers didn’t seem to bother to test out. This is where my strength build and all my time spent playing Punch Club went to die. I tried grinding even more to see if my build had a chance, but I never got close. I unlocked new skills and still couldn’t do it. From what I read online the only way past this part of the game is to stop doing what I am doing and start grinding Agility to beat the rest of the game. Part of me wants to believe that spending so much time training something new to beat a special fighter makes some sense, but not at the cost of all the progress I put in so far. There are some upgrades you can unlock that help keep your stats at certain levels, but they are such a tiresome time sink I just don’t even want to.
Once again I honestly think Punch Club needed more time being play tested and played before being released. It feels half done and badly designed. Tap responses on my iPad don’t register often. It was also crashed often, which added to the frustration. This could have been an amazing game had there been more plot to help me feel connected to the characters. Even a few more purchasable items would have went a long way. An actual bed to sleep on that boosted your stats better than the couch. Better equipment that would have freed you from going to the gym. Heck even raising Roy’s friendship meter to the point he helps you work out in your gym instead of the regular one would have been nice. Also, why can’t I learn to do my job better so that I make money faster? For a game about grinding the job portion feels utterly broken. Sadly, so is the rest of Punch Club for iOS.
That song. I can’t forget that never ending song that will just gall you after a while. Would it have killed the devs to have added some extra tracks? Punch Club is a $5.00 iOS game and a $9.99 steam game with one damn track that seems to play endlessly throughout until you fight. Then you get one other song… Really people?
After giving up I went to YouTube to sit and fast forward through gameplay and found that I honestly missed nothing. The rest of the game plays out nonsensically. Most everyone goes full on agility and dominates the game that way. The plot gets stupider and stupider. The final straw is the ending, which is so mindblowingly bad I feel horrible about the time I wasted playing Punch Club. Punch Club probably has the worst ending for a game I’ve ever watched. Of course that might have been my own fault for expecting more from this game. Punch Club has been nothing but over the top cliches, shallow cameos, winks and nods. So maybe expecting an ending that screams bad 80’s ending is exactly what I should have been welcoming and expecting. I don’t know. I really was expecting some sort of story to help this game stand on it’s own. As is, meh…
I love grindy games, but Punch Club’s grinds feel too unrewarding and the gamplay doesn’t ever feel worth it.
Hopefully this gets better in patching, but as is the game is a commercial hit and there seems to be a lot of people who do enjoy this game. I have no idea why, but this isn’t for me. I’m deleting the app off my iPad once this review is finished. Even looking at Punch Club’s icon fils me with bitterness.
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Read our other App Reviews
- 130 MB
- Universal app
- Lots of masochism to be had.
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