Thank you very much to Household Games for providing a review code.
Beat em ups are a genre that I’ve always had an interest in, but I feel they get a bit repetitive. It’s a genre that’s hard to stand out in, because you can only do so much with that genre of game. Way of the Passive Fist attempts to take the genre and create something new and interesting without completely changing the core beat em up mechanics. While there may be a few bumps in the road Way of the Passive Fist is an awesome beat em up that I would recommend to fans of the genre.
The story takes place on a planet called Zircon V. Zircon V is starting to come close to absolute destruction. Colonists are disappearing and it’s up to your character The Wanderer to get to the bottom of what’s exactly going on. To do this he’ll have to defeat waves of bad guys, but not with brute force, but with love. No, actually that’s not true either he uses the way of the passive fist to do this. Chances are the majority of players won’t play through Way of the Passive Fist for its story. However, I think it was a nice addition to have this story with a bit of depth to it. It’s interesting and worth reading.
Way of the Passive Fist is a 2D rhythmic beat em up. The entire game is broken up into 10 different chapters. Every chapter has a certain number of waves of enemies to get through. There’s checkpoints in every level that come about after you clear certain sections. Depending on how you perform in each section you will be awarded a bronze, silver or gold medal. These medals, award The Wanderer experience, but we’ll get into that later
So how does the Way of the Passive fist differ from other beat em ups? Well, you don’t really beat people up. Every enemy has a stamina bar that sits over the top of their head. You have the ability to parry, and dodge attacks instead of being able to attack yourself. Every enemy has their own attack patterns that you’ll have to make sure you pay attention to. When an enemy throws a punch you can choose to parry or dodge the attack. Some enemies have grapple attacks that do higher damage and cannot be parried. Therefore, if an enemy throws out a grapple you’ll have to make sure you dodge or prepared to be powerbombed. Once you’ve parried or dodged enough attacks from an enemy you’ll have exhausted their stamina and they will be unable to act. When they get to this point you can shove them and that essentially is how you will fight many of your foes
Shoving is not the only way you can defeat enemies. Some enemies throw projectiles and attack with their fist. if you dodge an enemy projectile when they throw it at you, you can launch it back at them for a “One Hit KO”. I really liked being able to do this and it just made me feel so successful, when I chucked a throwing knife back at the enemy and knocked them out. Besides that, you also do have a punch ability, though it’s not something that can be used constantly. As you get into the rhythm of dodging attacks you will build up a combo meter. The combo meter will build as long as you’re dodging quickly and don’t stop for a long length of the time. If you get hit directly your combo meter will also be reduced to 0. Every time your combo hits 5 you’ll have the ability to perform a Super Punch. This punch does massive damage to an enemy and most of the time will end knocking them out. Having this Super Punch as something that can be used as a reward for getting combos was a really good idea and it works really well.
At the end of some of the chapters you will have to fight a boss character. These bosses characters have a rhythm and order of attacks you can follow, much like the other enemies, but they’re quite a bit tougher. To take down these bosses your Super Punch will be very important as that is how you will do damage to the boss. The boss will have some of the regular enemies from that section fighting alongside him. You’ll have to build up combos against them, so you’re able to use your Super Punch on the boss and whittle its health down. It’ll take 3 or more punches depending on the boss to take them down. While they can be quite challenging the boss fights were a lot of fun, and made you feel like you were really improving and getting the hang of things once you’ve beaten one.
As I had previously mentioned, depending on how well you complete a section you get awarded with a medal and experience. Once your experience bar fills you’ll level up and along with your level up there’s bonuses. There’s a total of five levels and each one has a bonus. Your first level up will give you the ability to dash around and avoid enemies. There’s also health increases a Super Slam ability and one final one. Sorry guys I’m not going to spoil the final one you’ll have to see for yourselves ;). The level up system is an awesome addition that helps give a sense of progression besides just completing chapters.
My experience with Way of the Passive Fist was superb, but it wasn’t always perfect. An example being some of the sections I had to fight enemies in. The sections aren’t very big and they can get really hard to move in when there’s 4+ enemies on the screen. it starts to get to the point where you can’t even move around which became really annoying (especially because I’m claustrophobic). Another aspect of the game I wasn’t a fan of was the environmental hazards. Some of the levels have landmines you can step on, or laser beams that will target a specific section of the battlefield. Because they’re are already so small it became a real problem to try and dodge these hazards constantly. I definitely think Way of the Passive fist would have been better without these hazards.
Way of the Passive fist comes loaded with quite a bit of content. There’s achievements to be unlocked and the game keeps track of some of your in game stats as well. You also have a training mode available to practice your parrying. Once you beat the game’s story, there’s two additional modes that become available. One of these modes is New Dawn. New Dawn takes place after the story, and puts you on a mission to stop the new threat to Zircon V. This essentially acts as an arcade mode where you’re given 5 lives to passively make your way through its stages. The second new game mode is Passiverse which is essentially a rogue-lite mode where you get one life to go through some of the games toughest challenges. These extra game modes are fantastic additions and makes Way of the Passive fist feel like it’s flooding with content
One of the coolest things about Way of the Passive fist is its difficulty settings. The player is given full control over how they want to set their difficulty. If yo want enemies to be a little weaker you can adjust it, or maybe you want less encounters you can change that to. It’s really great that you’re given the reigns on how difficult you want your playthrough to be. This really helps with the games ability to attract newcomers to the genre.
Way of the Passive Fist uses a visual style that’s very reminiscent of 2000 era cartoons. It looks colorful and crazy which blends really well with its gameplay. Environments look interesting and really do a great job at portraying this apocalyptic galactic setting. Enemy designs look good as well, but there are a few too many enemies that look too similar. I wish there was a bit more diversity among these enemies look. The soundtrack is energetic and is perfect for the high intensity gameplay.
I can happily report I had no technical issues when it came to frame rate or resolution with Way of the Passive Fist. Way of the Passive Fist has great controls that handle really well, and overall it was a smooth experience.
If you’ve always had the belief that beat em up games are one in the same I highly encourage you to check out Way of the Passive Fist. The gameplay is different enough to make it feel like a breath of fresh air. It also manages to keep the fundamentals of the beat em up genre and appeal to die hard fans. While there are a few things that hold it back from being perfect, it’s truly a terrific game. Way of the Passive Fist is a worthwhile addition to anyone’s Switch library.
Solid Beat Em Up That is Different From the Rest of the Genre
Tons of Extra Content
Awesome Visual Design
Bosses Were Well Created
Screen Can Get Really Cramped
Some Enemies Designs Could Have Used More Diversity
Environmental Hazards Are Frustrating & Unnecessary