Ever since I first , I’ve been comparing the upcoming RPG to Earthbound, mostly due to the similarity of its aesthetics and, er, strangeness. That connection was backed up by , 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 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 last year.