Way of the Passive Fist
Back when I first began streaming-which was long before I did it with any sort of regularity-the only titles I played were side-scrolling beat ‘em ups. For every game similar to Lifeforce I played back in the day, I always loved titles such as Streets of Rage and Turtles in Time. Even though I’ve a plethora of retro titles at my disposal, before long I eventually ran out beat ‘em ups to play and moved on to streaming other games. As you can imagine, the second I discovered Way of the Passive Fist I was immediately intrigued: a modern side-scroller?! SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!! (and this was before I knew anything about the title). I was fortunate enough to get my hands on the title way back at PAX West 2017, and since then Way of the Passive Fist has become one of the titles I’m most looking forward to in 2018.
Prior to beginning your journey you’re able to customize various components of your gameplay experience, such as the skill of and number of enemies you encounter. This ensures each person who opts to explore the retro-inspired world of Way of the Passive Fist undergoes an experience crafted to their personal predilections, ensuring every playthrough is unique. Unfortunately due to the calamity of the PAX West showfloor I was unable to hear the audio of the title, however the pixelated art-style is gorgeous, simultaneously vintage and modernly sleek.
The core mechanic of side scrolling beat ‘em ups is incredibly self explanatory-you walk from one side of the level to the other and beat up anything that gets in your path, typically with a variety of melee attacks and weapons. Way of the Passive Fist takes this classic mechanic and forces the player into a more non-lethal role. The vast majority of your time is spent parrying and dodging enemy attacks, and once enemies have sufficiently worn themselves out (think the ol’ rope-a-dope or Homer Simpson’s boxing “technique”) most are defeated with a simple shove.
The only “attack” at my disposal during my limited hands on time with the title was a punch which needed to be charged via dodging, blocking and building your combo multiplier. Once unleashed, it made short work of the opposition. Engaging multiple enemies and utilizing a combination of dodging me parrying was engrossing, as not only was precise timing required but you had to ensure you were using the correct counter for the enemy you were engaging with. This puzzle-esque element keeps things fresh, and I’d assume more combinations/abilities are unlocked through the duration of the players journey.
Way of The Passive Fist takes the tried-and-true formula of the side-scrolling beat ‘em genre, coats it in a layer of non-lethality and douses the entire experience with a liberal amount of style. It’s a game I’ve been watching with a close eye for quite some time and if you’re a fan of retro style games but want all the trappings of modern gameplay mechanics (chiefly, variety), I’d recommend adding it to your watch list.