Way of the Passive Fist Preview
When you think about the entirety of the fighting game genre, the one thing every game consistently has in common is obviously fighting. So to hear about this all-new indie fighting/beat-em-up where the key point is that you don’t fight, it most likely leaves you both intrigued and scratching your head. Canadian developer Household Games has its premiere title on the way and it’s bound to catch the attention of gamers who remember the glory days of beat-em-ups on the Super Nintendo. The cleverly titled Way of the Passive Fist is shaping up to be a sleeper hit, but without a few changes to the game as a whole, it may only find itself a niche audience.
Way of the Passive Fist sees players take on the role of The Wanderer; a student of combat specialized in countering your opponent and letting them tire themselves out. The game is set on the Mad Max-inspired planet of Zircon V, which is supposed to be uninhabitable. Humanity, of course, sets up on the planet anyway only for society to turn sideways and those that survive the scorching sun often mutate or go crazy. Discovering that a mad doctor has been experimenting on people, The Wanderer sets out to stop him once and for all.
Way of the Passive Fist is a side scrolling beat-em-up with a very similar feel to the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle games, and the art style sparks grand memories of Saturday morning cartoons from the 90s. Instead of fighting with typical attacks, The Wanderer instead can dash, dodge, and parry, with the enemies’ hit point meter replaced by a stamina bar. Should you successfully tire out your opponent, it leaves them open to being knocked out with a simple poke.
The game relies heavily on the idea of audio and visual cues, as well as learning the attack patterns of enemies. Each enemy I encountered had its own pattern, and successfully nailing the rhythm to defeat six enemies at the same time was incredibly satisfying. Patience and timing are key, and I often found I did the best if I took the time before a fight to calm myself and simply focus on the buttons – the game truly is about being a “Passive Fist”. Players are treated to four difficulty sliders to customize how they want the game to play. Whether it’s perfect timing to parry, the number or strength of enemies, or how frequently you get item drops or checkpoints, these options let you alter specific aspects to help you learn the game. Whats more, the various combinations change the difficulty name; personally, I enjoy playing as the “Way of the Ardent Tenacious Alert Vigilant Traveler,” which is a mouthful, but also cool.
“…successfully nailing the rhythm to defeat six enemies at the same time was incredibly satisfying.”
The game plays like a classic arcade experience in the best way, but my hesitation for the game’s success comes from whether or not it will have a multiplayer feature. Story mode and Arcade each have a leaderboard option, but beyond these two modes there looks to be nothing else. I did only get to see a preview build of the game, so more content could be on the way, and I had an opportunity to talk about the game with the developers at Household Games back at PAX West 2017, so there is hope for more content.
While the nature of the game wouldn’t support a Vs. Mode – who attacks first in a game about blocking? – There is huge potential for online or couch co-op, as well as introducing optional characters who also follow the Way of the Passive Fist. Endless mode or a points-based Rival mode would fit in nicely, as players try to see who can defeat the most opponents. Additions like that could greatly extend the life of what looks to be a great game, but as it stands now it could be a “play once and move on” title if Household Games isn’t careful. For more information on Way of the Passive Fist, check out the games official website.
**PC code provided by the publisher**