By Josh Speer / September 5th, 2017
For gamers of a certain age, there is still a collective memory of the days long past when arcades loomed larger than life in their minds. Sure you could play games on your home console, but they didn’t have the same bumping tunes, huge graphics and frantic gameplay. Even though arcades have largely become a thing of the past, the feelings of awe they inspired remains. That’s why, when I saw the style of indie game Way of the Passive Fist, I was instantly drawn back to my youth. Visually it reminded me of arcade brawlers like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cabinets. There’s just one catch. While in arcade brawlers button mashing was king, in Way of the Passive Fist timing is the most important feature.
See, in Way of the Passive Fist, you play a lone wanderer in a post apocalyptic world. Armed with a cybernetic arm and a unique combat style focused entirely on deflecting and parrying enemy attacks, the game plays out much like a rhythm game. As you move along enemies come onto the field of battle and get up and close and personal before launching attacks. Each and every enemy has visual and audio attack cues before every attack, and by timing it just right, you can completely parry them. The goal is to thwart their attacks until they become exhausted, and then, using your index finger, you literally just push them over.
It sounds strange, and even a bit silly perhaps, but it’s massively satisfying in execution. Better yet, as you progress your character levels up and learns new skills to assist him, such as a handy dash that can take you from one foe to the next, throwing off their attack order. Additionally, some enemies throw grab moves at you, and those can’t be deflected. Instead, you’ll use a different button to dodge at the last possible second, but otherwise it works the same as your parries. By successfully deflecting or dodging multiple attacks in a row, you’ll fill up a special attack meter, and with it can unleash a one hit KO punch that doesn’t require you to exhaust your foe first. In the demo, this was mostly used to deal with the massive first boss. I had to use his minions to charge my special attack, then punched his lights out.
All that by itself would be great, and coupled with the stellar art I was already impressed. Graphically the game is as vibrant as the arcade brawlers of the past, but with a futuristic, space Mad Max aesthetic. But what truly makes the game a one of a kind is that it is fully customizable. You are able to alter the paramaters of everything in the game, from how many enemies appear on screen at a time, to which buttons deflect and dodge attacks, to how fast the game plays to even how strong enemy attacks are. You could literally play Way of the Passive Fist one handed or with both feet, which is incredible. Developers Household Games are trying to make this a game anyone of any ability can enjoy, and that’s just the icing on an already scrumptious cake.
I really enjoyed playing Way of the Passive Fist at PAX West 2017. It’s slated to release on Steam, PS4 and XBox One, so if you fondly recall arcade brawlers, or just want a totally unique twist, you should pick it up. Stay tuned to oprainfall for future coverage of this great indie gem.
arcadebrawlerfuturisticHousehold GamesWay of the Passive Fist