Your father is dead. To honor his legacy, and to figure out exactly what happened to him, the only option you have is to fight. Boy, that makes Punch Club seem like some grim, serious business, but the story-driven fight sim from Lazy Bear Games and TinyBuild goes about its task of entertaining us with its tongue mostly in cheek.
That said, it’s no picnic to become one of the best fighters in the world. You’ve got to constantly train yourself, pushing your physical attributes and learning new skills while also figuring out a way to work in more mundane things like eating and sleeping.
It’s both more fun and more challenging than I’m probably making it sound. But while my descriptive powers might fail me here, I feel better about my ability to help you improve as a fighter and have more good things happen to you than bad. Scroll on through our Punch Club Guide for all the tips, tricks and strategies you’ll need to fight until you have no peers.
You Can’t Train Everything
Technically you can try to train all three of your primary attributes, Strength, Agility and Stamina. You just shouldn’t.
The reason has to do with the time management aspect of Punch Club. At the end of each day, you’ll lose some of your points in all three attributes. Because there are only so many hours in each day, attempting to keep them all high (which is your natural inclination, I know) is a fool’s errand.
That doesn’t mean you’ll have to ignore any attribute completely, just that you’ll have to pick one to concentrate on, another that can be your secondary focus and one that will advance the slowest. How do you pick? That depends on the answer to the question in our next section …
What Kind of Fighter Do You Want to Be?
When you first start a new game of Punch Club, you’ll be assigned two basic fighting skills and won’t have much choice on how to go about your business when you first throw down. Every fight thereafter will earn you skill points and some say on how to specialize as a combatant.
The general skill tree eventually will allow you to unlock three different martial arts disciplines, each of which works best with a particular attribute combo.
- Way of the bear: Focuses on big single strikes that do a lot of damage and take a lot of energy. Primary attribute: Strength; secondary attribute: Stamina.
- Way of the tiger: If you like a fast, flashy offense with plenty of kicks and dodging your opponents’ attacks instead of blocking them, this is the art form for you. Primary attribute: Agility; secondary attribute: Stamina.
- Way of the turtle: The most conservative way to go, this allows you to absorb a lot of damage and grind out fights, along with helping to ensure you never run out of energy to perform your skills. Primary attribute: Stamina; secondary attribute: Strength.
That doesn’t mean other combinations of attributes can’t work, just that you’ll have a tougher go of it pulling them off.
TIP: Pay attention to the random perk assigned to you early in a new game, as that will give you a good idea on how you might want to specialize. For example, the Thin Guy perk makes you take extra damage but increases your chances to dodge. In that case, making Agility your primary attribute and pursuing the way of the tiger is a smart move.
Hit the Gym
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There’s only so much benefit you can get from working out doing push-ups in your garage, and it takes a while to save enough money for your own equipment. Fortunately, you’ll unlock the option of training at a gym early on. It costs $10 a session, though you can work out as long as you don’t need food or sleep, even into the next day if necessary.
The trick is to use your time wisely. Doing any exercise will eventually lead to diminishing returns, and you’ll earn less attribute points if you continue that routine. You can tell because the colored icons that pop up will start to be fractions of a circle instead of the full thing. Rotate between exercises to ensure you can keep making gains. Kind of like real life, or so I’m told!
Here’s what each piece of equipment in the gym will train for you:
- Speed bag: Agility
- Heavy bag: All three attributes.
- Treadmill: Stamina
- Squat rack: Strength and Stamina
- Dip bars: Strength
- Bench press: Strength
- Sledgehammer: All three attributes
- Jump rope: Agility and Stamina
Doing push-ups at your home trains all three attributes, though it’s sometimes hard to tell which of them willbenefit the most. Also, without spoiling any plot developments, you will find yourself in situations later in the game where you won’t have access to the gym, but you’ll be able to find similar exercises to do to train like you have before.
TIP: The vending machine in the gym sells energy drinks to ward off your need to sleep and other snacks to defeat hunger. They aren’t very effective for the price compared to normal food, so you should use them only as a last resort.
Different Paths to Glory
What does it mean to be the top fighter around? That depends, because there are three different options when it comes to putting your pugilistic talents to the test early on.
- Rookie League – The first fight circuit you’ll be able to join works using a rankings system where you’ll have to beat opponents ranked above you to rise toward No. 1. Points are awarded for a win and deducted for a loss. You don’t earn any money for fighting in this league until you get near the top.
- Ultimate Fights – These are unlocked after talking to a mysterious man in the Abandoned Warehouse after getting a lead from a guy you spot for at the gym. Ultimate fights are a good way to earn money by fighting instead of working, but the downside is that after a loss, you run the risk of suffering an injury that will reduce your training effectiveness until it heals.
- Street Fights – Once your fighting career is underway, you’ll meet a cool guy named Roy who introduces you to his smart, attractive sister. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The first night Roy takes you out for drinks, you’ll step out behind the bar for fresh air and meet a man named Tyler. Yes, he kind of reminds you of someone from a certain Brad Pitt movie. Anyway, he’ll open up a third path where you can “test yourself” in street fights. Winning five fights here unlocks … ah, that would be telling!
While you’re free to tackle any or all of these avenues as you see fit, it’s not a great idea to try more than one at a time simply because you won’t have enough time to recover between fights.
TIP: Use all your time up on the day of a fight. If you have a bout scheduled, you’ll automatically start it when your day is over. So if you need to train or work right up until the last second, go ahead and do it.
Miscellaneous Punch Club Tips and Tricks
- When it comes to getting a job, the manual labor you’re offered to begin the game isn’t bad, as it earns you $50 per shift and gives you some training benefits in Strength and Stamina. Another alternative is delivering pizzas once you’re introduced to Casey. That earns you less dough at $30 a shift, but it doesn’t tire you out as fast and is physically closer to your house.
- Speaking of Casey, asking him about the special pizza will open up encounters with four brothers who are obvious send-ups of the characters from a famous pop culture IP. You’ll have to beat them all in turn, but make sure you level up a few times between each fight.
- It’s tempting to double-shift at your job so you can load up on groceries, but the more money you have on you, the more likely it is that you’ll get mugged while walking around town. Either pay the money and take the bus or be forewarned — fights with muggers aren’t easy, especially early in the game.
- Who says there’s no room for love in the life of a fighter? If you join Roy at his house, you’ll be introduced to his sister Adrian. Impressing her means playing into her love of botany and finding several flowers in different locations. Here’s one hint: One is in your own house.
- Don’t forget that in fights, you can change the skills you’re using between rounds. For example, if you find you are running low on Stamina and are in danger of getting knocked down, you can swap in attacks that use less Stamina or use the “Skip attacks” skill that will help you regenerate energy. Unless you’re hopelessly overmatched, you’re not likely to lose in the first round, so change up your strategy if necessary.