It is said that on the distant planet of Zircon V, its star is too close to support life and is a place where eager explorers rush to capitalise on its abundant resources.
You are the Wanderer, a legend of the wastes. He has learned to survive by mastering the Art of the Passive Fist. With patience and a steady hand, he can endure any attack and outlast any foe.
The Wanderer heads into a settlement to stop raiders from wreaking havoc.
Yet, another title that has a story that is not interesting and has no bearing on the gameplay.
Way Of The Passive Fist is a mix of Streets Of Rage and a timing and rhythm game for combat. Sounds good, right?
The Passive Fist
The combat is ever so slightly different than other beat-em’ ups as instead of attacking, the Wanderer has to block and try to outlast the enemy. Each fight is a one on one fight and this is not as easy as you think.
Fighting is done by blocking or dodging in time with the enemies attack pattern. One enemy throws four simple punches at a set pace, while others may do a grab in the middle of a punching combo. Learning the attack patterns of the different enemies is vital to complete this game. It is not a simple as mash the parry button – there are consequences for that.
While Parrying, the Wanderer will do his best Mr. Miyagi impression of wax on and wax off with one arm. While facing the opponent and the arm is moving, he will parry; once the arm stops moving, be that mistimed or too many presses, the Wanderer is in a vulnerable state with short recovery time.
The Wanderer does have two arms, the other arm is only used for special attacks and opening containers for health, shame really… looks really cool.
Each parry or a dodge has a rating, and the Wanderer will flash to indicate the parry performed;*
Perfect (White Flash) – No loss of life and adds to the multiplier.
Late (Red Flash) – Take half damage, multiplier stays the same.
Normal (Blue Flash) – No loss of life and multiplier stays the same.
Missed Parry – full damage and lose multiplier.
*This is for standard setting
Once enough parries and dodges have been performed the enemy will be fatigued and the Wanderer can shove them out of the way. This is the primary way to beat most enemies.
The Wanderer can also check an enemy, this will perform a knockback, and can be very useful with some attacks. Dash can be unlocked to get out of the way of an attack or close down a gap quickly.
The Wanderer Can Be Too Passive
While you fight a massive mob, it is easy to get confused about what one-on-one fight the Wanderer will be taking on, this is to be expected, and is part of the fun. It is, however, a problem when the Wanderer gets attacked from behind, and he does not move to look the other way. after moving the Wanderer to face the new attacking enemy, this happened a few too many times. Let’s just say it is very annoying.
The multiplier and Level Up
The multiplier is something the Wanderer will want to keep going as long as possible so that he can perform a punch that will take a significant chunk of stamina off an enemy (the amount taken off depends on type and colour of an enemy). Each successful parry or dodge adds to the special meter. When 6 parries or dodges have been performed, a special attack can be used.
The special meter has three levels, each more powerful than the last. The latter two segments need to be unlocked.
The multiplier will be reset if the Wanderer is hit, misses a parry or if it times out. Then it is back to building it up.
After beating an enemy, the Wanderer gets EXP once the bar is full; it will unlock a boost, for example, an extra bar of health.
Level Set up and Bosses
Each level has its own biome and looks and is set up into scenes. Scenes are where the Wanderer will need to take on waves of enemies. The overall number of waves is indicated by the bar in the bottom right of the screen.
Every three levels, a boss fight will have to be taken on, there are five in total. Boss fights are the best part of the game, in my humble opinion. There are entirely different from the rest of the fights that the Wanderer will take on, making them more fun. They also all their own unique look and fighting style. I really do not want to ruin them for you, so I shall let you find out.
Make It Your Own Journey
Before starting a playthrough, the game can be tailored to suit the player. Also, each of the different setting combinations will have a different name for the journey – this was a nice touch. Settings can be adjusted at any point during the game.
Enemy Strength – This does not need to be explained
Encounters – The number of enemies in each fight
Combo Mastery – The margin of error for a parry
Resourcefulness – The number of health pickups in a level
New Dawn is the free DLC that comes with the game, adding new game modes, training ground, rouge-lite elements, and a new 5-stage story.
New Dawn is set after the main game.
Way Of The Passive Fist is a decent wee game that takes a long-running gaming type and turns it right on its head, even if not totally passive (punching with robot arm). It is a nice change, I enjoyed my time with the game. Rhythm-based combat will not be for everyone, as this is the major gameplay mechanic, this will need to be considered before purchase.
It is however flawed by the lack of enemy types and the occasional button lag. It is a shame as well as the game is decent bar these two major gameplay factors.
Let us start with the AWESOME music! Here is an example below;
As you can hear, it is a ’90s electro-rock soundtrack (this is not even the best track). I cannot fault the music at all.
The sound effect are also ace. From subtle sounds of the enemies audio cues for attacks, to the ground pounding fist smash. Each as good as the last.
They, however, do get a little repetitive after a while, hearing the same enemy time-after-time go “Ha-Ha!” It gets somewhat annoying.
Visuals & Performance
Visually, the team at Household Games has opted for a cartoony look for the Way Of The Passive Fist, and it looks fantastic. Bright, vivid colours of the backgrounds, the garish, aqua blue coloured hair, all mixed to make something truly unique. The animations of the Wanderer are great, along with the enemies. The visual cues that are noticeable but if you blink, you will miss them.
The Bosses are where the game stands out! Each of the bosses is so unusual and different, along with fitting the current biome, paying attention to their looks is just as good as beating them — extraordinary and beautiful designs.
However, the variety of enemies is a letdown. They are all the same handful of enemies but re-skinned a different colour and attack pattern.
The performance in both handheld and dock is perfect in terms of no slowdown, and loading times are excellent. No drop in frames or slowdowns regardless of the size of the mobs that I noticed.
Button lag and missed inputs happens not too much, but more than it should have. There was a few choice words thrown about at times. For this one, I played mostly in docked for the higher resolution as well as the Pro controller.
The price of the Way Of The Passive Fist comes in at USD 14.99, £11.99 GBP. For a decent beat em’ up, the price is on point. I cannot argue with the price point here.
If Streets of Rage with timing and rhythm-based combat is something you would like to try, get this game. If you don’t like those types of games, leave it be, you will not like this.
Physical – No
Check out Dusty Raging Fist Review another side-scrolling beat-em’ up
Good change from usual side scrolling beat-em-ups
Great boss fights and looks
Music is ace
Set own difficulty
Reskin of same enemy types
Rhythm-based combat is not for everyone