All told, Punch Club was a surprisingly deep and well-constructed simulation that kept me on my toes trying to manage the life of my unfortunate protagonist, Phteven (that's "Steven, with a 'ph'). While it wasn't at all what I expected, I found myself enjoying it more than I probably would have, had it been the brawler I anticipated.
Punch Club provides a parody-filled look at one man ‒ your man ‒ and his rise to martial arts stardom. Managing his hunger, training regiment, and social life contains all the appeal of The Sims franchise, but punishing stat decay and RNG-heavy fights cripple Punch Club's lasting shot at fame.
In the end, Punch Club looked like a fun, light-hearted sim game that ended up being a way better game than anticipated. It could do with a bit more in the way of interactivity, but it does present itself as a fighting simulator and not a straight forward fighting game. It delivers a lot more than it advertises, so these gripes are only so big.
Although the concept of the game is pretty cool, Punch Club doesn't really provide a lot of entertainment. It does, however, inspire you to head to the gym and lift some real-life weights or perhaps run on a treadmill for an hour or so.
When writing this review, great care was taken not to reveal too much regarding the events that can occur in the game.
Stylistically, Punch Club is a delightful tribute to '80s pop-culture and underdog sports dramas. At its best it's as exciting as watching a real sporting event and rises, believe it or not, to the level of interactive poetry about the struggles and temptations of everyday life. At its worst, it's a slog and a chore with little to keep you going but abstract icons indicating progress amid frustrating setbacks.
A promising start leads to a dismal end. Punch Club's quality dips shockingly fast and leaves a bitter taste upon completion.
I had fun with Punch Club as I unraveled its story between training sessions and my work day. It's definitely worth a play, even if you can't directly control fights. If you want to be the best, you have to work hard, and this game certainly shows you that, one fight at a time.
If you are looking for an excellent 16-bit fighter game then look no further than Punch Club as it's a hell of a lot of fun to play and sink some hours into.
Overall, I think Punch Club is a neat experiment of a game, but it needs a little more story and gameplay variety and a little less repetition. The first rule of Punch Club is obvious (right?), but the second rule is put on some headphones and your favourite podcast. You're in for the grind of your life.