At its root, Punch Club is a resource management game. You have four meters that need to be monitored: Health, Hunger, Mood, and Energy. Every time you do something in the game, these stats are affected. The ultimate goal is to win fights and become the champion of the fighting league. To win fights you need to train to raise three stats: Strength, Agility, and Stamina. These can all be raised by working out at the gym or working out at home.
In a fight, your stats do different things. Strength is your base damage, agility controls how quickly your energy recovers in a fight, and stamina reduces the amount of damage you take. You also have different attacks that you can set up during combat. These are unlocked through your skill tree with medals you get after finishing fights. To train your stats you need to visit the gym fairly regularly. If you don’t, the level of your stats will start to slip. You can get a certain skill to mitigate a bit of this, but for the most part, you need to go to the gym every day. Exercising in this way drastically increases your hunger and depletes your energy. In order to fix this you need to eat and sleep.
To get food you need money. To get the money you need a job. The only available job is in construction work, so it drastically reduces your food and sleep levels. So here is where the micro-managing comes in. You need to decide how to spend your day in order to get money, go to the gym, and hit the fighting ring. The game quickly teaches you to manage your time and resources effectively, or else you’ll end up in a loop of spending your whole day working and then spending your whole paycheck on food. There are other places around town you can go to as well, like the sports store where you can buy home exercise equipment. This will save you gym fees but provides a less effective workout. Or there’s the bar, where you can go to participate in street fights to earn some extra medals for skills. Occasionally you’ll wind up in a fight unintentionally. For example, you might go to the food store one day and encounter a robbery in progress!
The fights themselves are fairly boring. Before they start, you select a group of skills to place on your ability bar. These include various attacks and blocks. Once you’re happy with the load-out, the fight begins. You don’t do anything to control the fight; just watch it play out. Your stat levels and skills play into how the fight turns out, but for the most part, you just watch and pray to RNJesus. The fights are not very interesting on their own, and the entire player progressions system is quite lackluster.
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