Reviews

Knuckle Sandwich Review – A knockout game that’s a feast for your senses

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Knuckle Sandwich
Image via Andy Brophy

I don’t even know where to begin with Knuckle Sandwich. It takes me back to the more memorable games of my childhood while bringing me something utterly unique. And it doesn’t just score in concept and plot, but in mechanics and game design, too.

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Is Knuckle Sandwich a good game?

Yes. A thousand times, yes.

I can’t even think of an apt genre to place Knuckle Sandwich in — all I can honestly think to compare it to is the rather holy fusion between WarioWare: Smooth Moves and Undertale. Such a fusion is both a compliment but also doesn’t get across how unique and carefully constructed this game is.

One-man Knuckle Sandwich developer, Andy Brophy, has released plenty of clips and teasers on the game’s X (formerly Twitter) account that displays the high-energy battles that’ll make you master what seems like a million minigames to beat your foes. But it’s so much more than that — maybe just to me, but that’s got to count for something.

In A Field In Knucke Sandwich
Screenshot: PC Invasion

There is so much to praise Knuckle Sandwich for that to simply list everything out would make for a long, boring read. So, I’ll be checking myself to ensure I don’t go too far off the rails.

Without further ado, I’ll back up my claim and show you why Knuckle Sandwich is an indie masterpiece that may serve to revolutionize a new genre.

Knuckle Sandwich revives a lost art

When I was getting to grips with Knuckle Sandwich’s gameplay, it took me back to when I was lying on my trampoline outside with my laptop, playing Undertale. That may be rather strange, but so was Undertale. I was trying to defeat Sans and having a rather difficult time doing so.

I was super late to Undertale, only watching playthroughs and playing the game years after the fervor had started dying down. Memes, animations, songs, parodies — the lot had already been created. Sure, I took part and watched all I could and loved it, but it was obvious I had missed out on the magic while it was first forming and growing.

And now, Knuckle Sandwich comes out. I can already envision the fan art, the fan fiction, the theories, the parodies, the animations, and the buzz of a community coming alive. What I missed out on with Undertale, I can experience here, and it’s exciting! I know this game will be a hit, for all the reasons to come.

Chain Lightning In Knuckle Sandwich
Screenshot: PC Invasion

Knuckle Sandwich also took me back to my time playing the Nintendo Wii with my family and siblings. Back then, “minigame games” were in abundance. Games that purely revolve around a selection of minigames to get better at and reach higher scores. The most intense and crazy encapsulation of that was WarioWare: Smooth Moves.

Thinking about how many such games there were then compared to now shows that minigame games are a lost art, and Knuckle Sandwich brings them back to the modern age. You will have to become a minigame master to avoid enemy attacks and deal damage.

Sick In Knuckle Sandwich

Knuckle Sandwich pinches at two corners of my mind, yet delivers something completely fresh. It revitalizes a gaming subgenre I had forgotten about and will allow me to participate in the excitement alongside the community, something I missed with Undertale.

Knuckle Sandwich is special, clever, crafty, and will be a personal joy to many people out there.

Knuckle Sandwich stands on many pillars

There are many things that make Knuckle Sandwich such a strong game, but I’ll focus on the most compelling.

Firstly, the game is funny. It has a delightful humor that definitely reminds me of games like Undertale, with clever amusement in not just what’s said, but also the delivery, the text bubbles, and the music. Everything plays a part in what makes Knuckle Sandwich a joy to play through.

Each character is incredibly unique from one another and all are immensely enjoyable with their own presence on-screen — their own quirks, their own desires, their own personalities. I loved every interaction I came across. My favorite character currently? Brightside. Trust me, you’ll know the scoundrel when you see him.

Gameshow In Knuckle Sandwich
Screenshot: PC Invasion

The combat is also incredibly varied, high-energy, and a real challenge. When you’re in areas with enemies and monsters, you’ll see them frolicking around. You can try your best to avoid them, but you’ll eventually stumble into an encounter.

The music kicks in, and it’s go-time. If you can’t be bothered, you can actually opt to run away, which works every time on non-boss encounters, a factor I found merciful, to say the least. The fights have a great mix of challenge and fun, as minigames should. You’ll only get far in Knuckle Sandwich if you get good at the minigames, just like in the old days. You better have a sharp reaction time, too.

Every new boss and enemy type got me genuinely excited. I looked forward to each new minigame I’d come across. Trying encounters over and over again to master the mechanics and work on my reaction time was both satisfying and never overstayed its welcome. I remember taking on some bosses that seemed simply impossible when I first tackled them. But through perseverance, I got better at the minigames and noticed things I didn’t notice before. That is the joy of those minigame games, and Knuckle Sandwich reminded me of that.

What’s more is that the game isn’t afraid to get crazy or weird, which are two different things. The different art styles the game takes on greatly enhance the experience. When I wasn’t battling monsters and was in a more narrative-focused section of the game, it felt like anything could happen. And I loved it.

Cool Aesthetic In Knuckle Sandwich
Screenshot: PC Invasion

Like a fever dream melting into reality, there was never a dull moment. It is so hard to explain how cleverly the game is produced without extremely long-winded sentences. I think this is because the game is clever in ways I’ve never seen before. Knuckle Sandwich doesn’t just play as a fun video game, but also as a piece of art. I could tell that every junction of game design was labored over again and again to make sure it was as perfect and interesting as it could be.

And the music — oh, God, the music. Adored it. Every track. All of it. I need an OST immediately. Please, Andy Brophy. Please.

Knuckle Sandwich revolutionizes a new genre

This may be a hot take, but I believe Knuckle Sandwich could be regarded as the first proper entry into a new genre it establishes: Talelike.

Dark Souls can simply be described as a punishing action game with an old fantasy dressing. But it was so influential that it inspired a whole new genre, “Soulslike.” Since then, so many games have been developed around that premise. Just look at Lords of the Fallen or Blasphemous. Both games are rather unique and memorable in their own right but are Soulslikes by genre.

Gorilla Burger In Knuckle Sandwich
Screenshot: PC Invasion

I believe the same can be said for Knuckle Sandwich. Anyone who’s played Undertale will play Knuckle Sandwich and notice the similarities, but that doesn’t detract from how unique and different Knuckle Sandwich is. It’s a high honor. Alongside Deltarune, I believe Knuckle Sandwich establishes this new genre of gaming. “Undertale-like,” or “Talelike,” for short.

There are other games that are similar to Undertale, sure, like Lisa: The Painful or Pony Island, but I don’t think they’re adequate entries into this new genre.

This may be controversial, but I truly believe this to be the case. I’m ready for Knuckle Sandwich to open this discussion.

A New Beginning

To put it simply, Knuckle Sandwich manages to implement the lost art of minigames into what can only be described as a wild, insane, hilarious train ride you don’t remember boarding — but you’re now here for the journey anyway as the carriage goes this way and that and the music is pumpin’.

In true Talelike fashion, each enemy and character is laced with a personality that’ll have you laughing and caring. It’ll also take you to some crazy places. Some truly crazy places. You’ll never know what to expect, aside from more laughs and more fun and challenging minigames.

You will have a good time in Knuckle Sandwich for one reason or another. Maybe just for the music alone, because that’s how good it is.

Knuckle Sandwich is special to me, not just because it brought back some memories and is a product that is literally everything I’d ever want in a game, but also because it exists in this day and age. I was almost convinced that a product of this scale produced independently wasn’t viable anymore. Goes to show what real passion is.

Having such indie creators around to produce such a masterpiece of art fills me with determination.

Other Knuckle Sandwich guides

Knuckle Sandwich

10

Knuckle Sandwich revives a lost genre while sparking a whole new one. It's uniquely clever and effortlessly funny.