Drunken Fist Review (Xbox One) – Social Fistancing
Will Drunken Fist: Totally Accurate Beat’Em Up hook you in? Or leave you feeling punch-drunk? The Finger Guns review.
I have to preface this review by pointing that I have never consumed alcohol in my life and, therefore, my experience of being drunk is absolute zero. I hear both good and bad things about the experience and the aftermath, but – short of binning 43 years of sobriety (OK, realistically, around 25+ years) – those descriptions were likely to be as close as I ever got to knowing. Enter Drunken Fist: Totally Accurate Beat’Em Up, developed by DEKLAZON and published by Eastasiasoft, which aims to recreate the experience of alcohol-induced impairment without the hangover. So, how does it fare?
For those unaware of the physics-based genre of games, they essentially involve you taking control of the limbs of what is often essentially a puppet and trying to navigate the game’s environment by co-ordinating those limbs as best as possible. In the case of Drunken Fist, you are tasked with controlling a nameless drunkard and guiding him home, all while fighting off a number of punks, hoodlums and hipsters, while also avoiding the arrest-happy police officers patrolling some areas.
Navigating from ruckus to ruckus feels as awkward as you might expect, when you’re controlling someone not in full control of their faculties. This is aided by the somewhat old school feel of it all, with turning carried out using Resident-Evil style tank controls. Moving backwards and forwards is then made more difficult by being momentum-based – push forward too quickly or too far and your protagonist is sent into an uncontrollable stumble which will inevitably end with them crashing face-first to the ground or into a wall. It’s not as keyboard-smashingly difficult to get your head around as something like QWOP or Mount Your Friends, but I did find myself having to hesitantly edge forwards and backwards a little too often for my liking – if I want to experience that as a key game mechanic, I’d probably go and play something in the Trials series.
If that sounds difficult enough, then remember that this game isn’t called Drunken Walking – you’re going to have to scrap your way out of each level, and this is where the fighting mechanics come into play. You have three main weapons at your disposal with which to batter the various miscreants blocking your path. First up is a standard punch – a wild swing with minimal control. Oddly enough for a game called Drunken Fist, the second move was far and away the most effective one – a 360-degree leg sweep that more-or-less serves as a one-hit kill, if you can nail it. Lastly is a semi-defensive move and one I’ll go into greater detail in a moment – urination (no, really), which you can use to send enemies slipping to their doom. Be careful though, as it’s just as likely to take you out, as it is your foes. You do have one additional defensive move – a ridiculously extravagant backwards dodge that makes it look like you’re going to fall over every time you do it.
However, the urination plays a secondary role too. In the bottom left of the screen, you’ll see two bars that you have to maintain. One is a ‘drunk’ meter, showing how intoxicated you are – once empty, you’ll begin to sober and, conversely, lose health. You keep this meter topped up by grabbing beer bottles from the street and knocking them back (incredibly unhygienic, but what can you do?). The second bar is…well…a ‘piss’ meter. This slowly fills up and, if it reaches capacity, you’ll begin to lose health again. I’m sure you can see where this is going – empty that bladder pronto! You can regain health by swiping half-eaten burgers from the tops of bins or picking them up from the ground – this game is not one for the germaphobes among us. They’re all simple enough systems, but they don’t add much to the experience and, if anything, can occasionally detract from the core action.
Drunken Fist’s main issue is that, beyond the initial humour of the concept and the execution of it, there’s really very little there to sustain interest. The graphics, whilst bright and functional, don’t have a huge amount in the way of personality. Similarly, there’s little in the way of sound design to provide additional character. As such, it’s all a little bland and forgettable. Some of this could have been mitigated, if Drunken Fist had gone out of its way to mix its gameplay up a little bit in the later stages, but what you see on stage one is still what you’re basically seeing in the last stage, albeit with a few new enemies to throw down with. If anything, this makes the game’s short length a small mercy – if it had been much longer than this, it would have been almost impossible to recommend.
As it is, Drunken Fist is a nice proof of concept, but little more than that. If you can find it on sale (the game has been available on other platforms for over a year now, so that shouldn’t be difficult), you can probably glean a couple of hours of enjoyment from its shambling nonsense. Otherwise, it’s a shallow experience that doesn’t quite pull off its one trick well enough to recommend.
Drunken Fist is available now on Xbox One (reviewed on an Xbox Series S via backwards compatibility), PS4, Switch and PC.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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