PAX West 2017: Way of the Passive Fist Preview
I’ve always felt the way an indie game makes it big is with innovation and not simply copying the established titles. Sure, comparisons will be a natural thing, but a game needs to be memorable. At PAX West 2017 I was able to get my hands on just such a game from indie developer Household Games. Way of the Passive Fist has a classic look and feel to it, taking me back to my Super Nintendo days, but it’s the game’s key mechanic that sets it apart from the rest: WotPF is a beat-em-up/fighting game where you don’t fight.
As the title suggests (by way of a delightful word pun), Way of the Passive Fist is about being defensive and protecting yourself. Set on the planet Zircon V, the once prosperous planet is now on the brink of destruction as its star is on the verge of death. The game begins in a Mad Max-style setting where the player controls The Wanderer, a mysterious master in the way of the Passive Fist. With the planet overrun by mutants, raiders, and sun worshippers, the Wanderer must set out to protect himself and the innocent in this harsh environment.
“The game needed me to be just like the Wanderer himself: calm, observant, prepared.”
The game plays very similarly to classic side-scrolling brawlers like Turtles in Time with the key exception being the lack of actual combat at the hands of the Wanderer. Following the way of the Passive Fist means waiting for your opponent to attack first and responding to both visual and audio cues to know precisely when to parry and dodge. It had taken me a few tries to get the hang of it as I went in expecting a more classic arcade feel. Instead, I realized the game needed me to be just like the Wanderer himself: calm, observant, prepared. In the early stages I didn’t need to move much, just focus on my enemies and soon I discovered the attack patterns of each enemy type.
It’s incredibly satisfying to flawlessly hit deflecting combos and even more so when you make it look so easy, but watching that combo counter get bigger and bigger encourages you to keep you fighting harder and harder, and for every ten points of combo you reach, your point multiplier will increase. Once I had played the first chapter all the way through I immediately wanted to play again and crank up the number of enemies I had with the custom difficulty sliders just so I could practice my timing skills and get a higher combo.
While the point of the Wanderer is to be the Passive Fist, it’s also important to note that he does have offensive capabilities. Reaching a 5 hit combo would unlock a devastating super punch, a 12 hit combo unlocks a small AOE attack, and a 25 hit combo would pull off a complete screen wipe. For the purposes of the demo, I was only able to experience the super punch but I can’t wait to see those high impact moves.
“Way of the Passive Fist is looking to be a must have for fans of timing/rhythm games and those who want to challenge themselves at their own pace.”
Way of the Passive Fist features a fairly decent length for an Arcade game, but not enough to be insurmountable. Household Games wants you to be able to challenge yourself, so each time you beat the game you will want to try again and mess around with those difficulty sliders just like I did. With a truly retro feel and sharp controls, Way of the Passive Fist is looking to be a must have for fans of timing/rhythm games, and those who want to challenge themselves at their own pace. While the game has not yet been finalized there is plenty in store before launch including both a Story and Arcade mode, a full cast of colorful and zany 90’s cartoon style villains, and so much more.
Way of the Passive Fist is a title to keep a close eye on as it comes closer to release in Q1 of 2018 on Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. For more on Way of the Passive Fist, check out their official website.