No, this isn’t about Brendy Caldwell’s excellent RPS article series of the same name, but it’s arguably just as good. PUNKSNOTDEAD is a fleeting roar of pure mastery. A stage-dive into a candy colored killmadness. An out-of-tune guitar bellowing through shredded vocal chords. It’s a game that feels like a punk song, unrestrained and full of righteous rage. The end result is brief as it is pure, but the cacophonous punch-frenzy of a sidescroller holds nothing back. Also, it uses curse words! Oooooooooooooo.
In short (and also long, honestly), you play as one dude who punches other dudes into different dudes. And cars. And light poles. And all other things. Bodies soar, machines go up in angry flames, and emissions of wild defiance (“GET FUCKED,” “EAT SHIT,” etc) spill forth like sweet candy from a pinata. Only you’re not fighting pinatas. Your fists are shouting back against complacent conformation and blind hatred of difference. The Man, in other words.
But The Man has guns, and a single well-placed bolt of gooey green will do you in. So, mechanically speaking, the game’s about timing and awareness. Random NPCs can become gunmen at any time, so punch and leap wisely. Otherwise, you will be quickly and brutally punished. PUNKSNOTDEAD has a bit of Hotline Miami to it, in that sense. Admittedly, it’s not quite as satisfyingly precise or polished, but it makes up for its shortcomings with undiluted destruction.
Truth be told, PUNKSNOTDEAD is no revolution, but it’s fascinating and feels wonderful. For a project created by developer mooosh in 12 hours, that’s quite the accomplishment – and fitting to boot. This is an experience, after all, that’ll leave you out of breath and charged with restless adrenaline. If it was crafted in any other fashion, it just wouldn’t feel right.