See an incredibly complicated punch in the new Knuckle Sandwich trailer

Ever since I first got my hands on it, I’ve been comparing the upcoming RPG Knuckle Sandwich to Earthbound, mostly due to the similarity of its aesthetics and, er, strangeness. That connection was backed up by a trailer in January, but this new one—which gives an in-depth look at Knuckle Sandwich’s battle system—reinforces the idea that this isn't going to be your standard RPG. 

The combat is turn-based, but attacking enemies isn't as simple as just selecting a target. Instead, your accuracy and damage is determined by your timing. When you attack, a cursor starts moving along a bar, and you have to stop it within a certain spot to land a hit—similar to some shooters’ active reload systems—with a smaller spot for critical hits and a miss resulting in no damage at all. Faster enemies have faster moving bars, meaning the difficulty of hitting an opponent isn’t determined by a dice roll. 

It’s a surprising and welcome layer of depth to an otherwise classic RPG combat system, but things get even stranger when the trailer shows Knuckle Sandwich’s special abilities, each of which appears to be a bizarre, WarioWare-esque minigame. 

The example above (and in the trailer) is a move called “Complicated Punch,” which makes you guide fists through a colorful maze to repeatedly punch a target. Once again, the better you do, the more successful the attack. This kind of esoteric approach to combat reminds me of Undertale, though doesn’t go quite as far off the rails.

The rest of the trailer is packed with smart humor and some fantastic audio design, including a Wilhelm scream towards the end. It leaves me excited for Knuckle Sandwich, a game I was already looking forward to quite a bit and which Shaun called one of the most promising games at PAX AU last year. 

There’s no release date yet, but the end of the trailer says: “You might be able to play all of this soon… Really!” You can sign up to the mailing list to get more updates at the official site

Tom Marks
Tom is PC Gamer’s Associate Editor. He enjoys platformers, puzzles and puzzle-platformers. He also enjoys talking about PC games, which he now no longer does alone. Tune in every Wednesday at 1pm Pacific on to see Tom host The PC Gamer Show.