Knuckle Sandwich (Demo)

You’ve just moved into a new place, but boy, do you need to find a job real fast! Thankfully the job market is normal and completely moral, so it should be totally easy, right?

Knuckle Sandwich is an RPG currently under development by Andrew Brophy, where you play as a guy entering the workforce. I’ve been wanting to play this for a while but kept forgetting about it until it was brought up in a podcast on a certain game by my friend Fang. Better late than never, I suppose.

Knuckle Sandwich‘s battle system brings stuff like Mario RPGs to mind, with you timing button presses and other things to do damage and dodge attacks. Unlike a certain game, action commands are fast and simple to do, so it manages to be engaging without being too “minigame-y.”

The actual, longer minigames can be found outside of battke. The job market in Knuckle Sandwich sends the protagonist to do goofy jobs in the form of minigames. Now, doing good in the minigames doesn’t matter much – you will be fired for arbitrary reasons and you’ll still be paid nothing for the one job you do land.

But you might as well engage with the minigames because I think they’re actually fun and well-made! The little shmup one? Love that. It’d be nice if in the final game you can play that minigame and the rhythm one again except with different variations. You can probably bet on more minigames showing up in the final game, like a burger flipping minigame that was shown off in a promotional trailer. Such is the part-time life…

So, about that burger flipping.

As goofy as the world is, it is rather dismal – the demo is about a guy desperately trying to get a job, after all. Our hero does manage to land a job at a burger place, but the boss is outright abusive and doesn’t pay him – and he somehow gets worse by the end of the demo. Like LISA: The Painful RPG, I’ve seen this game described to be “Earthbound for adults.” Though, while LISA built its ideas off of Fist of the North Star, Knuckle Sandwich builds off the terrible reality of day jobs, which can make for a more relatable story.

The pixel art in the game is really nice and has a vibrant, colorful style that you’d expect from games like these. Promotional materials show that low-fi 3D models will be thrown into the mix and coming off of Anodyne 2, it’s a combination that I think works. The music, made by multiple composers, also really helps sell the game’s mood and atmosphere. Special shout-outs to this song by nelward, which manages to make a cool battle theme with a whole bunch of mouth noises:

The demo for Knuckle Sandwich can be finished within half an hour. I found it to be a very engaging time and the sudden tonal shift at the end acts as a real good hook. Any problems? Uhh the text boxes appear kinda slowly when you interact with things, which reminds me of that certain game, but it’s overall a nice clean package. If you’re into indie RPGs, this is a game to be looking out for!

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