Review: Way of the Passive Fist and ‘New Dawn’ Update

The review we’re covering today is sort of a two-parter. We had never covered Way of the Passive Fist (Household Games, $14.99) before. When they announced a giant update coming to their game entitled New Dawn, we knew we had to pounce on this. So Household Games graciously sent us what we need to cover the whole game with its new massive update as part of it. Join us as we find The Way!

Game Description:

‘Way of the Passive Fist is a unique and colorful arcade brawler. Parry, Dodge and Dash to outwit and outlast your enemies on a desolate planet ruled by raiders, mutants and fanatical sun worshipers. It’s a new kind of tactical fighting in the licensed arcade brawler for the 90s cartoon you wish existed.’

New Dawn Update Features:

  • An Epilogue Story with 5 new Stages
  • Unlocked after completing Story Mode
  • Players with existing Story Save Data (with at least CH1 completed) will have New Dawn content automatically unlocked
  • PASSIVERSE-A new rogue-lite survival mode. Unlocked along with New Dawn. Accessed from the New Dawn sub-menu
  • Story Mode Updates-Streamlined Story Mode. Improved pacing and difficulty curve. Due to changes to the entire structure, Story progress is reset for all players
  • Menu Updates-Main Menu visual update. Loading Screen visual update. Added ‘Extras’ Menu. Extras Menu includes new setting: ‘Score Style’. Credits and Statistics accessible from Extras
  • UI Updates-Score Style allows points that emit from the player to be changed to descriptors or emoticons. Updated the end of encounter sequence to be faster. Updated the Gold/Silver Rank. Up events so that they are visible when hitting both at once. Added colored particles on parry, dodge and catch actions
  • Gameplay-New ‘Shadow Warrior’ enemy type added. New ‘Robo Clone’ enemy added. New enemy variations added. Boss variations added. Fixed Green Robot hitbox when it misses a grab. Sped up the Wanderer’s ‘get up’ animation. Caught projectiles can hit any enemy, not just the enemy that originally threw it. New Dawn & Passiverse modes save health level between stages and when quitting/resuming. Updated the throw timing of the double knife throwing enemy
  • Audio-New music for the New Dawn modes


Audio & Soundtrack:

As always, anyone who knows me knows that I think that video game soundtracks are incredibly important. They can provide a mood, set a scene, or just be a nuance in the background that keeps your mind in the game. They can also be something that can definitely kill an experience if they’re outright horrible. This would cause you to turn down the music, use custom soundtracks, or silence the game’s audio altogether.
Well, I am happy to announce to you that Way of the Passive Fist has a soundtrack that is what I would consider perfect. Before we talk about the music itself, I want to credit the game developers. They created a game that has different music in the main menus and in the different levels of the game. Each area you go into has its own tune and that is tremendous. Some games might have a lot of music, but they reuse a fair amount of it in the menus thinking that you won’t be there long. I despise personally despise that and think that it makes more sense to have no music in a menu rather than a song that you feature elsewhere in the game.
So onto the music of the game now. What I heard as soon as I started the game up was something I wasn’t expecting. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be getting retro style music or if it was going to be some new sounding music found in fast-paced video games. What I heard was a punchy, upbeat, hi-fi sounding arcade-style music. In fact, the music that greets you as the game starts is built into an attract screen like an arcade has. And while it was a short attract sequence, I let it play for a little while to get into the feel of the game. I did the same with the menu music because it has a featured song that clearly loops, but it sounds like a limitless song. As I had mentioned before, the music is different for each and every level which is truly a treat for audiophiles. There are so many instances of synth and real instruments balanced simultaneously that I’m truly impressed. The music is so big and badass that you feel like it’s crafted just to illustrate the character and how fantastic he is.
The other astonishment here is that the game is voiced as well, which I was not expecting either.  They made it sound like games of old though. And what I mean by that is that weird fuzzy way that voices used to sound in games up through the end of the cartridges. There was a limitation back then so even if they could include voices, they were far too compressed to be considered of high quality. That’s what the voices in Way of the Passive Fist sound like. Last and maybe the most brilliant of all is the sound customizations. The game gives you full customization of overall sound as well as music, voices, and sound effects.


In this title, you’ll find that the visuals are that of a late 80’s arcade game similar to TMNT and The Simpsons and so many others. Those striking visuals were from a time when that wasn’t necessarily the best that could be done, but they wanted to keep the game nice and simple. Having tons of 3D objects on the screen at one time in a brawler on a square screen could’ve been quite confusing for the player. And if you have players that don’t want to give you their coins, then you have a machine that was dead on arrival. So the visuals in this game look one for one in terms of not only the 2D animation but also the bright brilliant colors that stood out from one another.

Within the settings of the game, you can choose visual attributes like score representation and so much more. This is just like how they give you full control over the audio settings. Whether you choose to how to see the onscreen scoring, you can adjust contrast, change the HUD size, and if you’re playing on PC, you can adjust the resolution. There are plenty more options available too, but it’s hard to explain the overall outcome of all of them since you can mix and match them any way that you would like.

There are villains aplenty in Way of the Passive Fist. And while we all know that characters get repeated in games like this, there are still so many different and varied characters. What I enjoyed the most about the character designs where the fact that there were so many different costumes. And since they feature female villains in the game, they have more costume options. The game’s aesthetic is like a Mad Max and RAGE mashup. There are little hints at games of the time that they pay homage to here and there. The game also features fully detailed backgrounds that break the game up a bit. Environmental hazards pop up while playing too. The hazards are visual in nature and don’t touch you or knock you around or anything. And while they’re visual disruptions, the developers made certain you can still kind of see the action happening.


We already know that this game sounds like games of old. It also clearly looks like the games of the late 80’s and early 90’s. But how does it play? Well, what you see as the title is supposed to be a play on words that also informs you of the gameplay style. In this game you don’t attack the baddies until they’re knocked out, it’s quite the contrary. You are the Wanderer and you have mastered being passive and not fighting. So now you block, parry, dodge, and deflect everything that the villains come at you with. Once they’re tired and their bar empties, you simply push them over either with your hand or shoulder. It’s so lovely, but you have to be good at timing rather than button mashing like games of your youth.

The game features fully customizable controller settings that you can change at any time. I’m really thankful that the developers have given us full control over the game in all regards. That continues with the fact that you can freely edit the difficulty. But instead of just choosing easy, normal, and hard set of options, you can edit the more broken down options. There are Enemy Strength, Encounters, Combo Mastery, and Resourcefulness. These are all set to the middle by default. For this review, I left it on the default difficulty. I felt that this was the way that probably everyone else has reviewed this game.

There’s more to the gameplay mechanics than previously discussed. For example, the game has it set up that you have a bar that can be filled up. If you do enough passive actions, you build up that meter which yields a super move. Leveling up gives you great new abilities as well for taking down handfuls of baddies or do a boss some damage. There is a story to follow if you want. It doesn’t subtract from the game to ignore it. Which is very much the same way the old brawler games were. I’ve beaten the TMNT games and I’m sure I don’t know the stories in them.

My only complaints here are quite lackluster, but let’s go through them. First of all, only three saves per profile? The old games didn’t even have any save files, so that can’t be that the developers are trying to emulate those games. I think that they should either give you unlimited saves for your profile, or just one. Having three makes me feel like there’s a reason for it and I don’t know what the heck that would even be.

The other issue that I have with the game is that I don’t like the fact that checkpoints aren’t automatic. Again, what purpose could this possibly serve? Does it increase the difficulty as I have to remember to activate it and if I don’t, then I’m screwed if I die and have to restart? Just like the number of saves, it seems so deliberate, but I can’t figure out what reason they had to justify the inclusion of activating checkpoints.

Replay-ability & Longevity:

So if you already owned this game from when it first came out, just be aware that there is so much more built into this game now. Or maybe you never bought it because it looks like a short-lived arcade title. Well again, the game has a lot more content contained within it. So in both regards, I recommend that you give this game another look. The default game can be extended just by the leaderboard functionality on its own. Whether you’re trying to beat someone else’s score or maybe surpass your own previous high score. You’ll also be able to try to retain a higher quality of medal than you did in the past. You want to achieve all of the gold medals for each level in the story.

The newer content that was added to the game entitled New Dawn brings more challenges to expand the already great game for free. So if you truly feel as though the default game isn’t beefy enough to take the small asking price, New Dawn will make you feel better about your purchase. One of the modes in the New Dawn update is called Passiverse. Passiverse really elongates the game. For those who don’t know, Passiverse changes the gameplay and genre of the game entirely. It makes the game less of a brawler and more of a “…rogue-lite gameplay mode that features ever-changing combat challenges and a non-linear structure that lets you choose your path.”

But the best part of the New Dawn update, to me, is the New Dawn story mode. Just as you had the main story containing 10 levels with leaderboards and medals to attain, so to you have here. Except, this story is another 5 levels long. It’s a simple epilogue that has events that take place after the events in the primary story. But what you have here is a change in the dynamic in which you play the levels.

As I mentioned before I recommend playing the normal story first. This isn’t just so you can follow the story, but also because the New Dawn story changes a lot of aspects. Such as you now not only have 5 levels to play but also only 5 lives to do so with. Furthermore, you’ll find that the mode has zero checkpoints in it. But luckily you get to choose the difficulty. I would think you would find it more challenging to play all 5 levels across the difficulties starting from low to higher. This extends the length of the game and lets you learn the bosses and such.

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