Link uses a sword, and the Belmont clan uses a whip, but the hero of Rocketcat and Madgarden’s Punch Quest uses only his fists (and the occasional laser-blasting velociraptor) to battle through a castle full of monsters. This hands-on approach leads to an outrageously physical game, where jabs and uppercuts punctuate every jump, sending zombie heads and torches flying. Don’t hesitate to download this incredible game, because it’s absolutely addictive.
Punch Quest feels like a combination of Castlevania and Jetpack Joyride. It’s loosely based on the auto-running genre of games, but with a much bigger emphasis on combat. Instead of simply trying to survive by avoiding enemies and pits, in Punch Quest you can build up a huge score by fighting back with your fists. A kinetic physics engine turns every knocked-out monster into another chance to boost your score multiplier. For example, you can run up to a skeleton, knock his skull into a nearby bat, juggle that bat into an orc, and so on.
A wizard is never late, he punches precisely when he means to.
Rocketcat and Madgarden’s retro production values and sly humor also make this game stand out from an endless series of running games. Punch Quest has 16-bit style sprites, with expressive enemies who appear pained while you pummel them. Every so often as you play, you’ll be allowed to pick a branching path that can lead you to a treasure chest, swarm of enemies, boss encounter, or a giant egg containing either a laser-firing dinosaur mount or a gnome, which serve as a ridiculous sort of bonus round.
Punch Quest’s gameplay feels varied every time you play, partly because the traditional jump controls are replaced with aerial attacks, letting you stay focused on combat even while you try to avoid pits and spikes. What also helps are the special abilities, which you’ll activate by filling up a meter at the bottom of the screen. Between rounds, you can customize your loadout to get the perfect combination of special moves– for example, you can pay in-game currency to make your fists shatter any enemy’s wooden shields, or turn dead enemies into an explosive device.
Who wants to jump into the pile of skulls?
You’re also given three challenges, like in Tiny Wings or Jetpack Joyride. These will lead you to new attacks, which are easy to find if you just follow the helpful floating gnome heads in the menus. Less impactful is the character customization, where you can spend your coins on silly hats for no discernible reason.
The most amazing thing about Punch Quest is that it’s a free download (Rocketcat’s first). We were able to play for hours, getting maximum enjoyment out of this title without paying a dime. In-app purchases are an option if you want to unlock the best special moves right away, or if you feel the need to dress up your character, but we didn’t find them to be essential.
For its incredible graphics, sound, physics, controls, and humor, we’re giving Punch Quest our highest recommendation. The fact that this amazing, high-score beat ‘em up game is a free download is just the cherry on a delicious sundae. If you love old-school platformers, new-school auto-running games, or boxing zombies and watching their guts go flying, download Punch Quest right away.