Knuckle Sandwich is a really, really weird game… but in a good way. It mixes up an anarchic RPG adventure with an abundance of quirky mini games that wouldn’t be out of place in a WarioWare title, with the unique amalgamation of ideas making for a genuinely engaging experience. It’s just also REALLY f*****g weird.
Check out some screenshots down below:
It’s safe to say that Knuckle Sandwich doesn’t have your typical RPG narrative, with players taking on the role of a nameless man who looks to settle down into a new life in Bright City. Whilst you have a slightly rocky start, you soon ease into a job at Gorilla Burger and things seem relatively ‘normal’ (and I’m using that term VERY loosely). Then everything gets… well… really, really weird, and you find out that you’re an ‘anomaly’ that has to work with your newfound buddies to stop gangs, cults, monsters, and all sorts from bringing the city down.
It’s hard to put the narrative of Knuckle Sandwich into words, because it’s so bizarre that it’s best to simply experience it yourself. It’s full of these odd and comical moments that’ll make you utter ‘what the f**k’ on a regular basis, but it’s in a charming self-aware manner that’ll keep you invested in everything that’s going on. The writing is top notch and the characters you meet are a memorable bunch too, so it definitely has a lot going for it. And sure, it certainly won’t be for everyone – I’ll admit that some of the jokes didn’t hit the mark for me – but I was still a fan of the bizarre tale it has to tell. If you were a fan of the vibe of RPGs like Undertale, you’ll almost certainly like Knuckle Sandwich too.
It isn’t just the narrative of Knuckle Sandwich that takes a more unique approach, with its combat utilising creative mechanics that are out of the ordinary for the genre. On first glance alone, it’d be easy to think it’s just another turn-based combat system. Even standard attacks are fairly familiar, with the player having to stop a reticule across a power bar in order to land their attack – sure, it’s not as simple as just mashing attacks out carefree, but I’ve seen similar systems across the genre before.
“It’s full of these odd and comical moments that’ll make you utter ‘what the f**k’ on a regular basis, but it’s in a charming self-aware manner that’ll keep you invested in everything that’s going on.”
However, when it comes to skills, there’s a more creative mini game driven twist that helps Knuckle Sandwich stand out. Rather than just performing the action or stopping a target on a bar, you’ll complete small mini games that’ll determine the success of the attack, with these mini games looking and playing like something that could have come straight out of the WarioWare series. They’ll see you timing actions to test your reflexes to hit targets, performing memory tests, partaking in some schmup action, mashing buttons to build up power, and so forth, with each one offering something completely different to what you’d expect from an RPG. They’re a ton of fun to complete and there are loads of different ones to play, whilst you’ll even have to complete mini games to avoid enemy attacks with your success potentially negating their effects.It’s a really cool system that I was a big fan of, with the ever-changing mini games keeping you on your toes and ensuring that the turn-based action always feels frantic and fun. There can be a bit of a learning curve though, and with some mini games proving very challenging over their short span of time, it can feel a little unfair in places too. One mini game saw me having to simply jump over dogs riding on skateboards, which sounds easy in writing, but becomes very difficult thanks to the sheer amount of dogs that appeared on the screen at once. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound hard, but it could feel a little cumbersome when there were so many dogs that it was almost impossible not to hit them (I feel really silly writing that). And when you do get used to it? You’ll come across a new enemy that throws a different type of mini game your way. In fairness, the vast majority of the mini games are a lot of fun and fit the tone of the experience perfectly, but the few duds that are there can sour some battles – especially since some enemies can be brutal and wipe you out quickly if you aren’t successful.
Another aspect of the game that could feel a little difficult was your item management, with the player’s inventory limited in what it can hold. It puts an emphasis on only carrying what you actually need, which can be hard to figure out given the unpredictability of combat. I’m a sucker for carrying an excessive amount of healing items in RPGs, but Knuckle Sandwich took me out of my comfort zone and forced me to be frugal. I didn’t like it at first, but as I played on, it was something I started to appreciate. It adds an extra level of challenge to the experience, and whilst it did de-value some of the items I found when exploring that didn’t seem as useful as what I had in my inventory, it also made me strategize my loadout more carefully for maximum efficiency. It’s surprisingly deep for an RPG that’s so chaotic and zany in the other aspects of its design.
Check out some screenshots down below:
There were plenty of things I really enjoyed in Knuckle Sandwich across its anarchic storytelling and creative combat, but I think the one thing that stuck out the most was just how unique it was as a whole. Whilst we’ve seen plenty of experimental RPGs that make players feel like they’re high off drugs when playing, there was *something* about Knuckle Sandwich that just helped make it more distinctive and joyful to experience. It always felt like it was throwing something unusual and different my way, whether that’s within the gameplay or even the way it looked, and whilst these moments were often baffling, they always hooked me in that little bit more. I’ve already said Knuckle Sandwich won’t be for everyone and I stand by that, but for me, it was a real treat that’ll stick in my mind for some time.
Knuckle Sandwich Review
Knuckle Sandwich is uniquely bizarre across all facets of its design, but it helps it stand out as one of the more creative and enjoyable experimental RPGs out there.
Sure, its humour won’t be for everyone and some of its mini games could be a little frustrating, but for the most part it, stands out as a memorable and anarchic experience that feels different to almost every other RPG out there. It’s finely crafted, full of funny moments, and gives players plenty of quirky little tasks to complete, with Knuckle Sandwich’s weird adventure always an entertaining one.
Developer: Andy Brophy
Publisher: Andy Brophy
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed)