At first glance, Way Of The Passive Fist might look like another modern day throwback to the pixel brawlers of the SNES/Arcade era we so fondly remember. Quickly after engaging with the first enemy on screen, it’s obvious that developer Household Games is on to something much more interesting.
Way Of The Passive Fist is a gorgeous throwback to the days when every licensed game would somehow involve beating up hordes of the same enemy on a 2D plane. What separates this game from the classics it draws its inspiration from is its surprisingly deep but simple defensive based fighting style. To put it simply, Way Of The Passive Fist plays more like a tactical strategy game than it does a brawler. Instead of charging head on to waste your enemies, here you need to wait for an opening in their attacks and either throw your opponent, dodge, and eventually strike back with a devastating punch from the Wanderer’s bionic arm. The implementation of using your enemies’ attacks against them in a lightning fast rhythm meets fighting game way is a welcome breath of fresh air in a genre that desperately needs a revival.
At the start of the demo I found myself struggling with this slower tactical playstyle. While it’s not a fault of the game (that at the time of this the demo is only 4 months into development), it’s a very different way of thinking for this genre that takes a totally different approach. Once I understood how Way Of The Passive Fist plays, it became instantly satisfying to wait for my enemy to strike, then throw them across the screen before immediately dealing with another totally different foe. Way Of The Passive Fist is definitely worth looking out for.
Way Of The Passive Fist comes to the PS4 and PC sometime in 2017.