In 2016, Lazy Bear Games released a fighter management sim called Punch Club, which is kind of like a Princess Maker game if the princess was actually Rocky, and sometimes had to fight crocodiles. Now the studio has announced it's working on a sequel. Punch Club 2: Fast Forward will be out in 2023.
Unlike the original, which was set in a kind of pop-culture melange of the '80s and '90s, Punch Club 2 is set in a synthwave near future with cyborgs, holograms, brains in jars, and a corporation that owns you. Expect to see references to everything from Robocop and Blade Runner to The Matrix and Cyberpunk 2077.
As the announcement on Steam (opens in new tab) puts it, "The streets are covered in neon, police holograms patrol neighborhoods, the gym has a new neuro fitness machine, and... Wait is that a Jedi robot massage therapist?!"
The original Punch Club was a lifestyle sim where you had to balance your fighter's gym training, job, and recreation to make sure he was fit and healthy, while grinding up stats in whichever aspect of physicality you decided to focus on. Since those stats could decay if they weren't reinforced by use, it could get brutal if you didn't min-max with enough dedication.
The actual fights were more hands-off. You could analyze an opponent before a bout, then assign some moves based on whatever the best way to take them down with your fighter's skill set seemed to be. After watching how that played out, you had another chance to choose moves each round.
It seems like the core of that remains true in Punch Club 2. The trailer shows a fighter who works in a girder-bending factory, a noodle stand, and some kind of "slime-beating" facility where he goes Rocky on cocoons for a living. He also tracks down a secret master in a sewer, fights cyborgs, and gets abilities by watching movies like Starship Slimers and Pants of God starring Chani Jack on VHS.
So yeah, the pop culture references remain heavy. One thing confirmed to have changed, according to the YouTube video description (opens in new tab), is "No more stat decay!" That'll make a lot of players happy, as it was one of the most frequent complaints leveled at the original.
Punch Club 2: Fast Forward is being published by tinyBuild and will be out on Steam (opens in new tab), GOG (opens in new tab), and the Epic Games store later this year.