It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the unholy alliance between Rocketcat Games and Madgarden would result in one of the best free to play titles available on the App Store today. There's some serious pedigree behind these two developers with Rocketcat contributing Hook Champ [$2.99], Super QuickHook [$2.99], and Mage Gauntlet [$2.99] to their side of the equation while Madgarden throws their hat into the ring via Saucelifter [$1.99], Sword of Fargoal [$1.99], Sword of Fargoal Legends [$2.99], and the upcoming Sword of Fargoal 2. All of those games would be on any short list of "must have iOS games" of mine, and Punch Quest [Free] easily finds a home among that list as well.

Punch Quest hinges on familiar endless runner tropes, in that the core of the game revolves around a "see how far you can go" mechanic. Where the game diverts from the rest of the pack is through a shockingly deep combat system and a focus on slaying as many enemies as possible- Making Punch Quest more of an endless puncher than an endless runner. In fact, if the game has a flaw, it'd be not making just how intricate the combat system is apparent to the player at first blush.

Tapping the left side of the screen executes an uppercut, and then tapping that same side a second time throws a downward punch. The right side of the screen controls your standard forward-facing punch, and once you spend the 10 Punchos to unlock the ability, holding both sides blocks. In Punch Quest you want to rack up and maintain huge combos, and as you get better at the game and notice all the little nuances between how to deal with the various enemy types and other tricks to keep combos going you sort of have a Neo seeing the Matrix moment- One of my favorite sensations while playing a video game.

As you play, you're tasked with a familiar set of three objectives, ranging from simple things like kill X enemies to complex tasks involving using special abilities in certain ways. These are your bread and butter for earning Punchos, the in-game currency fueling the whole experience. With Punchos, you can buy all sorts of moves, single-use powerups, and persistent upgrades. Customizing which of these unlocks you have equipped adds an even greater level of depth to the game as clear combos become evident and crazy obscure mashups result in ridiculously lucky high scores.

There's all sorts of power-ups to discover in game, often as the result of choosing the proper direction in one of the many branching paths thrown your way. There's even minibosses, collectable items, and tons of other surprises that I really don't even want to list to not detract from the magic of stumbling across them. Oh, and like all Rocketcat games, there's no shortage of hats to collect.

The ten trillion ton elephant in the room in any free to play game review is how obnoxious the game's monetization is, and Punch Quest takes an insanely hands-off approach to directing players to buying the in-game currency. It's almost worrying in a way, as there is absolutely no reason to buy any additional Punchos. The IAP is hidden in submenus, and Punchos are so plentifully earned in game via completing objectives and killing monsters that the general vibe I've seen towards the game is "I'm throwing a couple bucks at the game to support the developer" rather the all-too-often "Ugh, alright, I've hit the pay wall, you win, here's my money" we see in far too many free to play titles.

This review is intentionally vague because I don't want to rob anyone of the many "Did that just happen?" moments that Punch Quest fires your way, especially as you start investing Punchos into unlocking additional branching path types. What I will say, is that you need to download this game now. Punch Quest needs to be on every iOS device you own. It's totally free, the only way the IAP could be less obtrusive is if they removed it entirely, and you'll fall in love with the game inside of the first minute of play. What's not to like about that?

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarStar
  • drkhrse

    A great game. I hope everyone buys some IAP to support them!

  • Andy C83

    I keep hoping I'll find a 'Hodapp' idol for me to punch, maybe in an update. ;)

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      They mentioned on our podcast they want to do an entire update of nothing but Easter Eggs. ;)

      • Andy C83

        *cracks knuckles*

  • LousyHero

    Amazing game. Five stars is right on the money....err punchos that is.

    Mage Gauntlet link is linking to Punch Quest btw.

  • AbsolutePhenom

    Best endless runner on the App Store. It doesn't even feel like a endless runner,

  • LearnIIBurn

    Whoa when did Mage Gauntlet go free? It states 2.99 for me.

    Punch Quest is absolutely amazing.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      Copy/paste error on my part. ;)

      • LearnIIBurn

        Got it thanks for clarifying :)

  • David Rosen

    True story. I basically thought this game up 3 years ago. It was gonna star my friend Q. Pretty much the exact same game though. Oh well. At least now I get to play it, even if I didn't get to make it.

  • ImJPaul

    PUNCH QUEST IS THE GREATEST GAME EVER MADE!!! I WILL NEVER PLAY ANY OTHER GAME.....EVER. MY LIFE IS COMPLETE AND I NO LONGER NEED TO SPENDS 100's AND 100's OF DOLLARS ON THE NEXT 20 CALL OF DUTY OR HALO GAMES!!! CAPS LOCK, SON.

    • Fire_28

      Instead those hundreds of dollars will be buying IAP for hats in an iOS game. I must admit, that is worth it.

  • jar0d

    This is such a great game. Rocketcatgames (and madgarden) did it again. Didn't hesitate to buy (donate via) IAP just to support. Like someone said in the forum. A "donate a buck" button would be even better because I didn't want to spend punchos the easy way ;)

  • http://www.meadiciona.com/charles_anjos Charles Albert

    i would pay at least 3 dollars for this game. will definately buy this value via IAP once my next month pay is in mty bank account.

    goddamit this is so good

    • h_A_Z

      U don't have $3 in your bank? :p

      • http://www.meadiciona.com/charles_anjos Charles Albert

        nop, i'm just a academic trainee, living in my parents house. i believe that's unusual for your country standards, but is pretty usual for mine.

    • Hipcat

      Heavy platforming bits? What game are you playing,

  • http://twitter.com/patrickneef Patrick Neef

    This was a great written review. [this comment contains 0 % irony)

  • Benegesserit

    Can someone explain how combos rack up in any other way than just luck with spawn density and paying for upgrades to clear things quicker. The review makes me hope there really is a more deep combat system but all I get is grind and luck.

    That being said:

    It's fun and the presentation is top notch. I would have easily paid $1.99 for this.

    • http://twitter.com/madgarden Paul Pridham

      Once you learn how the hit reactions work, how to juggle skulls and bats ahead to extend your combo, what your best skill loadout is for your own play-style, then density and luck has little to do with it. Though for extra density there's always HUSK MUSK(tm)

  • http://twitter.com/rocketcatgames Rocketcat Games

    Everyone magically brought together by a love of punching things

  • http://twitter.com/Cybertox Denis Ginzburg

    The game is decent but doesnt deserve 5 stars.

    • subshell001

      agreed. it deserves, at the very least, 12 or so.

  • http://entrepreneurialblog.com Niclas Johansson

    I LOVE that one of the first things that hit me (OW!) with this game was that it was played in portrait mode - unusual for a sidescroller and it gave a nice zoom-in on all the action. And then I noticed that landscape mode was just as awesome :)

    Seriously, great effort here dev guys. Thanks for the pure joy of eperiencing this gem, I will GLADLY sprinkle some bucks in your direction!!

    • KenGriffeyIII

      You can play in portrait mode? I can't see wanting to do that but it's cool that they even made that an option.

      • rpgmind

        Yeah I stumbled on that too lol. Looks great either way.

  • Klonis

    Very nice game!!!

  • deportagee

    It's amazing to what lengths reviews have to go to apologize for IAP. It's like apologizing for PBS Fund drives or TV commercials. All necessary things for us to continue to get great things at a minimal to no cost.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      Who is apologizing? How the payment model works in a free to play game is very relevant to our readers.

    • Benegesserit

      Actually it's like asking about commercials on cable channels (which you already pay through the nose for) vs public broadcasting. IAP is fine if presented correctly and there's a plethora of examples where it's done completely wrong so developers have no choice but to wade through the bias to convince people they did it right.

  • mguniverse

    Today is one of those rare occasions where a free to play game gets a five star review.

  • http://twitter.com/TeslasTesticles Tesla

    One of the best games I've played all year. And I showed my love and appreciation to Rocketcat games by buying $20 worth IAPs. Love the game and will see tons of replay value in it. Controls are fluid and the timing becomes more and more important and you start to enter the "matrix." 

    Newbies will have fun mucking about, but the pro players will have fun getting the perfect timing and going very far in the game.

  • Ben Ruddock

    Why does everyone forget about Hook Worlds? :(  That's by far my favourite Rocketcat game.

  • KenGriffeyIII

    My only "problem" with this game is that I don't want to get the IAP because I want to unlock everything myself. I don't want to pay for a bunch of puncheros because I really want to earn them in this game but I do want to throw the developer at least a couple bucks since this is game is so great. I did miss out on the Hook Champ games though so I guess I could get them instead. It's something, right?

    • http://twitter.com/madgarden Paul Pridham

      There are plenty of hats to spend your punchos on too.

  • Phil_Lapineau

    Very fun, quick, and accessible game. For some reason the game's look and feel reminds me a lot of 10000000 without the match 3 element.

  • mrTofu

    Great game, but maybe too soft on the IAP.  I'll be curious to see where it sits in the next few weeks on top gross.  It's already in the top 50 (28) free after a single day...amazing.

    • Benegesserit

      Too soft? It's the aggressive IAP in apps that real gamers hate. Some of the more aggressive games may be able to exploit stupidity and impatience to make more money, but you're doing the future a disservice if you're encouraging the aggressive route just to squeeze out more money in the short term.

      • mrTofu

        Ha.  I did say "maybe".  It's a tough thing to balance.  If you only satisfy the core players, and hope for a donation of good will, well good luck.  They are doing an awesome job but they also need to make a living.  They can't rely on the few of us giving them a few bucks here and there.  If something is free people will take advantage of it.  Either case it seems to be doing great.  I'm still tracking it on the charts to see how it turns out.  I noticed they also just did FAAD.  I hope they make a killing on this because it's an awesome game.  They got my $2.

  • Hehateme78

    "In fact, if the game has a flaw, it'd be not making just how intricate the combat system is apparent to the player at first blush."I couldn't of said that better! You don't realize how spectacular this game is until you play it for awhile. I always disagree w/ your 5 star ratings but I couldn't concur w/ you more on this one. I will probably throw some money as well to the developers for doing everything the way it should be done! Craploft/ gameloft should take note on this one!

  • http://www.the-app-shack.com Matt F

    This part is the best one: "the only way the IAP could be less obtrusive is if they removed it entirely,", Excellent review for an outstanding game.

  • vic_viper_001

    A free-to-play game that DOESN'T completely suck. I never knew it was possible! I hereby give the devs a virtual fist-bump!

  • Baby Landlord

    I love how positive these comments are! and on a free-to-play game too! I feel like we're all growing together! I bought some IAP only to show my support and I probably will continue to buy the 1.99 one as they update it. Nice to see Eli writing this review and it really feels like everyone is on board with this one. Hurrah! Great job, us!

  • rebelloth

    Awesome game, but it could have a tutorial. It's very addictive, but at first its confusing.

    • AEREC

      It has a tutorial every time you play: tap the left side to uppercut and the right side to jab...what else do you need?

  • http://twitter.com/conixgames conix games

    It's a delicious little candy bar of a game! Yum Yum! And a very nice take on the whole IAP want/need balance.

  • PadreTomasito

    Oh My Goddess! Retro on steroids! This!!!!!11111!!!

  • therion3

    This game rocks.
    Hope they will get more money than those dev who agressively push you to buy IAP.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=566184718 Chris Hawkins

    I actually hate they they are so subtle with IAP. This game should have a trial with a full game unlock (with faster xp gains) for $1.99. 

Punch Quest Reviewed by Eli Hodapp on . Rating: 5