Punch Club 2: Fast Forward PC Review

Punch Club 2: Fast Forward is a retread for both better and worse.

By Fragnarok, Posted 27 Jul 2023

Lazy Bear Games released the original Punch Club: Dark Fist back in 2016 as their inaugural title. Since then, they have mainly concentrated on the simulation RPG Graveyard Keeper and numerous DLC packs for said title. Now, more than seven years later, Lazy Bear is continuing the Punch Club universe with a second game, Punch Club 2: Fast Forward.  

Punch Club 2: Fast Forward picks up roughly 20 or so more years after the first game’s story. It heavily features characters from the previous title. The original unnamed protagonist went off to compete in the world’s greatest fighting tournament but disappeared without a trace. This left his girlfriend, Adriana, alone to raise their unborn son. Growing up, the boy trained to be a great athlete, just like his father. However, his mother forbade him from leaving the neighborhood.


Punch Club 2|Fast Forward|Lazy Bear Games|tinyBuild


On one faithful day, the house became barren of food. Adriana reveals that she had been stealing this entire time and that if the hero wants to eat, they will need to venture out. The young protagonist soon finds himself at Apu’s corner store and ready to make a purchase. However, it is being robbed by Lil Bobo, the son of former thug Big Bobo. The two get into a brawl but are soon arrested by the police. But rather than be arrested, the Sergeant releases the hero and gives him some leads that his father may still be alive.

You are then given the freedom to explore the highly futuristic Upper City. It is open to investigating the Bobo family, taking requests from Apu on behalf of next-door neighbor Henry, or taking on odd jobs for the mob. Moving around the city and various actions takes ranging from a few minutes to several hours. Transport can be instantons via a bus, though each ride costs money. The key thing is that many businesses and opportunities only occur at certain hours of the day.

The main character in Punch Club 2: Fast Forward needs to maintain their health, hunger, and energy by either sleeping or taking supplements. While sleep can be done at home, most food items are purchased at outside locations like Apu’s shop or from the Bobo slug farm. To afford such meals, you will need to take on odd jobs from different employers. This includes cooking noodles, bending metal bars, or even police work. 

Harder work does make one hungry and tired, so it is key only to take on a job long enough to get paid. Having no money for food can quickly spiral into a near-bottomless grind. Adrian and Henry will offer meager free snacks like popcorn or rotten sandwiches as a failsafe.


Punch Club 2|Fast Forward|Lazy Bear Games|tinyBuild
 

While jobs provide basic needs, the hero’s main goal is to track down his father. This is mainly done by participating in the fight circuit of Silver’s Gym. You start at the bottom rung but move up the ranks by challenging the next fighter in the class. However, these fights are also scheduled at certain times, and not showing up is considered a defeat. This makes it important to always have enough time to commute to whatever arena the battle occurs.

In a fight, you do not select individual attacks. Instead, you program a sequence of punches, kicks, and delays to execute each round. The combatant with more initiative goes first, followed by the defender. Some attacks drain stamina with each use, while others recover meters and grant defensive buffs. The opponent’s sequence is also visible, and it is possible to change the program between each round - beating out their tricks or changing to a more guarded strategy.

Each fighter has a school that helps focus their fighting style. There is the broad and versatile basic school, the highly aggressive Somba, the evasive Yogoeira, the low energy cost Arrrkido, the highly accurate VR Fighter, kick-centric Taekwond-Yo, and many more to unlock. Additionally, various stats like strength, stamina, and agility can be improved to increase fight performance.

In fact, planning a build and routine is very important to make an actual strong fighter with a defined fighting style; trying to train the main character in everything will wind up being weak overall. One could focus on brute strength that knocks out the toughest enemies or a lightning-fast style that hits more often. Others might instead want a near-infinite pool of stamina to unleash different moves. In many cases, some people might want to completely restart the campaign rather than grind.
 

Punch Club 2|Fast Forward|Lazy Bear Games|tinyBuild


Punch Club 2: Fast Forward is all about maintaining a balance between work, goals, and leisure. One will often be stuck in the monotony of continuously commuting to work, grinding for a paycheck, then heading home to eat, train a bit, and sleep. People who enjoy the ongoing daily routine of The Sims 4 will feel at home. But those wanting an action-packed adventure might feel underwhelmed.

You can lessen the grind by selecting easy mode when starting a new game, though this setting cannot be changed midway. The easy setting doesn’t directly make things faster, but it weakens enemies at the gym. In turn, this means lower stats and fewer skills are needed to advance in a given league.

If you played the first Punch Club, this gameplay loop might seem all too familiar. And for the most part, Punch Club 2: Fast Forward is a rehash of Punch Club: Dark Fist with a sci-fi wrapper on top. However, this new cosmetic change is an important feature. Upper City has gone from a backwater slum into a sprawling mega-city straight out of Cyberpunk 2077. This shifts the tone to more futuristic references from media like the Terminator franchise, Blade Runner, and The Matrix.

Unfortunately, these references are still just surface-level and don’t do much to actually build up a compelling and interesting world. It simply seems like Lazy Bear Games wants you to view these outside IPs and feel unearned nostalgia. The only difference is that the references now combine action media like Rocky and Mortal Kombat with more sci-fi shows and games.


Punch Club 2|Fast Forward|Lazy Bear Games|tinyBuild


It is also unclear if Punch Club 2: Fast Forward crosses from parody to outright copyright violation. At one point, it is required to fight Goro Majima from Yakuza 0. No changed name, exact identical Sega design, and all. In another location, Gogo Yubari from Kill Bill will just be causally sitting around as an NPC that can be talked to.

One fantastic aspect of Punch Club 2: Fast Forward is the music. The game still uses a midi-focused soundtrack but also embraces the dystopian setting. Techno and synthwave beats reminiscent of Mega Drive or Lazerhawk enhance nearly every location. Additionally, a main theme was composed by JT Music, but it sounds like it would better fit with the original game’s more 80s setting.

Punch Club 2: Fast Forward is more of the same, with only slight improvements over the first game. It really feels more like an expansion than its own standalone game. If you enjoyed and recently beat the Punch Club: Dark Fist, then Punch Club 2: Fast Forward is worth jumping into. But the second game is not a good jumping-off point and shouldn’t be played without good knowledge of the original.

Kurtis Seid (@KurtisSeid)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Publisher(s): tinyBuild
Developer(s): Lazy Bear Games
Genres: Simulation
Themes: Boxing, Fighting, Sci-Fi, Life Sim
Release Date: 2023-07-21

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