Duffing up baddies in a side-scrolling beat 'em up usually involves chainwhips, repeated blows by a blur of fists, jumpkicks, and at least one special move that's basically just shouting. Way Of The Passive Fist is not that sort of beat 'em up. Instead, it wants us to carefully dodge, parry blows, and tire enemies out until we can knock them down with a single cheeky poke. Having button-mashed through a fair few beat 'em ups, I'm well up for a little more caution and thought. I don't have long to wait, as the developers have announced Way Of The Passive Fist will arrive on March 6. Here, watch this:
See? Dodge, parry, tire out, then push over. I'm reminded a little of the sly slap that was so popular in Absolver. Though some of the moves on show there are a touch more aggressive, with more of the bombast and bursts of flame I would expect from beat 'em ups; they're moves used by building the Super meter through good defensive play.
Every day, I give thanks for the modern video game parry. What a joy it is, challenging us to study enemies and master our own timings then calmly wreck opponents. It adds so much interest to fights that could be a little dull. I recently started a new Bloodborne run focused on the two-handed 'gravestone on a stick' Kirkhammer and, as much as I enjoy smashing, the game just feels incomplete without a free hand to carry a parrying pistol.
I dig Way Of The Passive Fist's sci-fi post-apocalyptic vibe. Beat 'em ups should be weird. I'm always disappointed when one has neither vast cities nor punks. It's one of the few genres where the 80s movie punk is still treated as the greatest threat to society, which I find pleasingly quaint.
The developers, Household Games, have considered accessibility. Difficulty settings come as four sliders from "enemy strength" to "combo mastery", so people can tailor the game to their abilities. It'll have options to remap all keyboard and controller buttons, built to support even playing one-handed or just with thumbsticks. And they say it has options for players who are "visually impaired or sensitive to sudden flashing lights". Good-o.
Way Of The Passive Fist is coming to Steam on March 6th. It'll cost $15/€12.