Ragdoll physics experiences seem to be a genre that just won’t die. Having shot to popularity in 2014 with Coffee Stain Studios’ Goat Simulator, the likes of Gang Beasts and Human Fall Flat have shown that the quirky gameplay style can have direction even when your avatar struggles to.
Drunken Fist is eastasiasoft’s latest Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch release. The game tries to ape the best of the genre with a more direct translation of the muddled control system, sarcastically dubbed a ‘Totally Accurate Best ‘Em Up’.
Of course, nothing about Drunken Fist is accurate. From the difficulty of moving to the wild swings of your punches to the often awful camera control, Drunken Fist is a comedy simulation of being a drunk looking for a fight. It’s simple and it’s fun; if only for a short while.
You play as as a drunk old man. The game eschews the given norms of a story or tutorial and simply tasks the player with ‘beating 8 jocks’. The first goes down simply enough, then the second. But to get to the third you have to navigate around a corner. This is where the trouble begins.
As well as the difficulty in navigating and aiming your punches, Drunken Fist offers up a few additional mechanics. For example, you will require burgers for health. A constantly draining drunk meter demands you find and drink another beer to stay in the fight. It’s not exactly complicated but it doesn’t need to be. Drunken Fist is a game made to enjoy for it’s moments, not it’s message.
This ethos is proven by your pee meter. Once full, you must pee. A press of the D-Pad and out comes a series of yellow blobs, splashing onto the pavement and anything – or anyone – close enough to you. It’s silly and that’s all there is to it, perfectly summing up Drunken Fist as a whole.
Less silly however is the audio design. Whether by chance or intent Drunken Fist actually has some pretty clever design decisions that really emphasise those moments you’re here for. For example, when your avatar hits the deck – which you will often – the background music cuts dead. In that moment it’s as if the whole world has seen this, and is left speechless at your stupidity. Good work, a**hole.
If you’re coming into Drunken Fist looking for a groundbreaking piece of work, or even just something progressive for the genre, you’ll be sorely disappointed. But as a couple of hours entertainment passing the pad between a few friends you could do a lot worse. Drunken Fist is best when it’s given the opportunity to be shared between friends as you laugh at one another’s frustration; it’s a party game of sorts, and will be enjoyed for its moment in that light.