Knuckle Sandwich Review – A Dazing Right Hook​

Knuckle Sandwich Review - A Dazing Right Hook

No idea if this is an Australian thing or not, but growing up if someone asked if you wanted a knuckle sandwich, it was usually an indicator that you’ve offended them greatly and they wish to punch you in the face … hard. Thankfully, Andy Brophy (the developer) isn’t asking if you’d like to wear a black eye for the remainder of the week and instead is asking you to play their new video game… coincidentally called Knuckle Sandwich.

Where do I even begin to describe this game? From an initial perspective, you can see some similarities between a game like Undertale and Knuckle Sandwich. It’s a purposely vague story driven narrative with some light RPG elements and a combat system that relies on turn-based dynamics but delivered in the form of mini-games. You play as … well, you! A protagonist who knows nothing about what’s going on. In essence, like you, they’re a fish out of water where the whole adventure seems like some crazy fever dream of events. You’re thrust into a world where there are numerous people out to get you because you’re an ‘anomaly’. With the help of your blue Goblin guide and friends whom you met during your (unpaid) job at the hamburger joint (where you made burgers out of people), you’re goal is to figure out what’ causing the world you to glitch out and hopefully stop the bad guys from succeeding in a task you know nothing about!

Don’t know what any of that means? Good, neither does your character, feeling out of place and confused is par for the course here. It’s the perfect way to expose plot elements without being patronizing or lazy because, like your character, you simply need to go with the flow and not think about it too much. Naturally, all will be revealed over time, but you can’t help but empathize with the main character as you both get through the chapters with a huge WTF look on your faces.

Humour is easily the game’s biggest flex here. It’s perfect, very self aware and random where it needs to be. One such example that literally made me laugh out loud is where you’re on a cruise ship. You and your party member overhear a conversation going on below between the gang members. Naturally you’re reading every word and you know what’s going on, after its down your party member looks at you and goes “I could not hear a single word that they were saying”. Moments like this are strewn out across the game and never feels like the jokes get worn out or become less funny over time.

The combat, however,  is a mixed bag. Your attacks are timing based with different meter bars and skills are performed by simple little mini-games. When your enemies attack you, you’ll either need to successfully time a dodge by pressing ‘A’ at the right time, or avoid the traps in their mini-games. Being successful in the latter will result in the enemy taking damage. The reason its a mixed bag is because some of these become predictable, where experience and repetition over time will result in your ability to avoid damage more consistently, but for a lot of others it simply feels like the game just wanted you to lose that one. Naturally one would expect a difficulty curve as you progress, one that matches the players skill level to continuously provide a challenge but still be fun. But at times it feels unfair and a bit frustrating. Especially in long drawn out boss battles where one slip up can doom your party members or yourself.

The RPG elements aren’t just light, they’re extremely light! To the point where stats don’t really seem to matter at all. You never get to pick your party members, the game will swap people in and out as the game goes along and your items seem to make little difference when it comes to damage and defence. Even your items are limited with very little item space or even an ability to stock up on things like health regen or status removals. This was clearly done on purpose but you really start to feel this limitation about two thirds of the way through where some battles just hang around a lot longer than you’d prefer. In contrast to a game like Undertale where it struck a wonderful balance between all these aspects and kept it varied enough that you’d always look forward to the next fight.

Knuckle Sandwich is far from a perfect game, but the writing and narration should definitely keep you playing, even when the combat system starts to wear a little thin. The humour is well placed should definitely get you smiling with its many references or situational comedy. For this reviewer, it’s a perfect blend and it kept me playing. They say humour is subjective but in this case if you don’t find it funny, you’re simply wrong. This is the one case where if someone asks if you want a Knuckle Sandwich,  you’d do well to say yes.

Knuckle Sandwich was reviewed on PC with code that was kindly provided by the developer.

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