Interdimensional chaos, goblin towers, dodgy meat, and a persistent bus driver are just some of the things you’ll witness in Knuckle Sandwich – an RPG extravaganza with you at the centre.

Where do we begin? Let’s start with Bright City. You arrive in town searching for a j-o-b and immediately befriend the bus driver, who directs you towards the job centre. Stomping around town lets you speak with the locals and get your bearings.

Upon entering the Job Centre, Knuckle Sandwich goes a bit madcap. Walking down a vast corridor, you’re entered into a gameshow, taking a chance on one of those Wheel of Fortune things to determine your employment fate.

Exit the stage to the left, and you’re part of some short, zany mini-games. Unlike their counterparts, these differ from the absurd WarioWare or nuanced Kuukiyomi setpieces and offer instructions.

Knuckle Sandwich Review - All eyes on me
All eyes on me. Source: Steam

Knuckle Sandwich Review – Turn-Based QTEs

After completing the job centre arc, you snare a burger-flipping job, and a new chapter begins. Ok, this isn’t as surreal as I thought. Then, a chance encounter around the back of the restaurant changes your life.

Cue some existential turn-based battles and a goblin narrative, and it’s fair to say that Knuckle Sandwich is the surreal adventure I was expecting (and hoping). 

The mini-games are key, not only through exploring but also within the turn-based battles. There’s the standard setup of basic attacks, skills learned through levelling up, item usage, and a summon for when you build up the goblin meter.

These quirky setpieces are one of the major draws to Knuckle Sandwich and are more on par with WarioWare or even SPOOKWARE. The actions are explained well; however, if you miss the instructions, they won’t reappear. If you encounter that same QTE and are unsure what to do, you’ll concede an attack.

Knuckle Sandwich Review - Raw footage
Raw footage. Source: Steam

Stick It To The Man

What’s the other major draw? The artwork and animations. It’s like a game jam collaboration with a series of established artists, each bringing a unique interpretation of our bruised hero. Unless I’m entirely misinformed, EVERYTHING except the music is by Andy Brophy. Wow.

Now, let’s balance out this Knuckle Sandwich review with a few things that could have worked better. For starters, starting the game. I began my first playthrough on my laptop without issue, but the animation and dialogue were moving too fast. Long story short, if you experience this, turn off V-sync. 

Unfortunately, gameplay froze a couple of times, so I took a break and returned to it on the Steam Deck. As is often the case, my progress didn’t copy over, but I wanted to try using joysticks (yes, I could have just plugged in a controller to my laptop), and the Steam Deck seemed the way to go. 

While the controls were fundamentally better than the keyboard, the game crashed numerous times with dialog box pop-ups. Bugger. Now we’re on my desktop, and once again, no save file, so this has to be played on my laptop. Also, I got pretty far, so I didn’t want to start again. 

Knuckle Sandwich
Source: Steam

I Wander…

I got back into actual gameplay and grew a little frustrated with the RPG element. Well, the exploration. I don’t doubt many people will lap this sort of thing up. Alas, the back-and-forth puzzle-solving and not knowing what elements were tangible or not got tedious.

The redeeming factor was the writing and, of course, the mini-games. Sure, I could watch the animations all day and gawp at the artwork, but I want something to play, and the turn-based battles make it entertaining.

I’d even go on record and say that Knuckle Sandwich has to be one of the most accessible RPGs I’ve ever played; ripping out all the bloat and tedium of lore, complicated controls, number crunching and anything else related that you want a break from. It’s not an arcade game, though it’s just as appealing to a broad audience.

The buzzword for games in this genre is typically cosy. That’s not something I’d associate with Knuckle Sandwich, though I will stress that this is funny, entertaining, and genuinely unique. 

There’s not much else out there as versatile as this, and if I were wearing a hat right now, I’d tip it in whichever direction Andy was facing – this is an accomplishment and a half. And, while I lost my way with the explorative bits, I still urge you to play the demo, at the very least, for the sheer lunacy and enjoyment factor. Also, check out his other stuff on Itch.