Punch Club, formerly known as VHS Story, from Lazy Bear Games is a retro-inspired tycoon game for PC and Mac, and is the tale of an aspiring boxer looking for vengeance, and to find his father’s killer. I recently got my hands on the E3 demo for Punch Club and here’s what I thought.
Punch Club begins with a phone call telling you to get off your ass and train. You roll out of your makeshift couch/bed, grab a slice of pizza from the fridge, and start your workout. This is where the managing begins, as you choose to work on 3 main stats: Strength, Agility, and Stamina. Each type of work out benefits a different combination of stats, and slowly drains your energy bar.
After training I was off to the local pizza place to earn a few bucks delivering pizzas. The manager of the pizza place, Casey, then offered to show me some moves and hit the pads. This was the first introduction to the combat system. Before a fight you have a certain amount of focus points to spend. These points can be spent on moves like uppercut, dodge, block, jab, and kick. It’s up to you to strategically set up a plan of attack with these focus points. New moves can be unlocked from a skill tree, which requires points that are gained from fights. After wailing on some pads it was time to hit the grocery store for some food.
A balanced diet is another key to a boxer’s success. You must decide whether you want to splurge that extra few bucks for a nice steak, or go for the pizza. Have a unhealthy soda, or go for the energy drink. When it’s time to leave the grocery store and head home, which can be done either by bus or walk depending on if you want to sacrifice cash or time, I was jumped by some thugs. This was the first real test, as I was dodging bat swings and timing my punches. After successfully fending off the attack, things got really interesting.
While I won the fight, the thugs made off with my groceries, forcing me to eat a spoiled burger from a nearby dumpster. If things couldn’t get weirder, next thing I know I wake up in a sewer fighting a teenage mutant ninja crocodile. Which brings me to what I enjoyed most about Punch Club.
Easily the best part of Punch Club is the nostalgia of the 80’s and 90’s. Everywhere you turn there’s knockoff movie posters for classic films like Rocky and Blood Sport. Some of the dialogue you’ll recognize from movies like Terminator. The graphics and music also have a very Super Nintendo feel to them that works perfectly with the game’s theme and plot.
The only complaint I have about the Punch Club demo is that I didn’t want it to end. I was immediately hooked by all of the retro pop culture references, and wanted to continue experimenting with the combat system. Punch Club won’t be released until the fall, but once it hits Steam I highly suggest you give it a try.