One Punch Man: World Preview: It's Simple, For Better or For Worse

The first thing you might ask yourself when you start playing One Punch Man: World is — why does it take so many darn punches to put down basic enemies? It says “One Punch” right there in the title. The reason for this was not made clear during my recent 30-minute play session. Fortunately for One Punch Fans, you’ll find an action game that looks and plays like an interactive version of the anime. Key moments have been accurately recreated in-engine, and you’ll even be able to expand on what was seen in the show. At a glance, you might even think you’re watching the anime instead of playing the game.

My time in One Punch Man: World began with a scene of our hero, Saitama, being rudely awakened from deep sleep in his own bed by subterranean monsters emerging from underground and causing havoc in the streets. This is a beat ‘em up: You can punch, kick, dodge, and even use a couple special attacks you’ll have to build up to. Combos can be ended with a flourish that sends enemies flying into the air — at least with Saitama. Other characters from the anime are playable and presumably have their own combos. Every now and then a quicktime event will occur, asking you to mash buttons to trigger an action set piece. One such event caused a highway to come crashing down, bringing the fight to a new location.

Combat is a little on the simpler side, perhaps because One Punch Man: World is currently only scheduled for mobile and PC — no consoles, unfortunately. If it’s going to work on a phone screen, the controls can’t be that intricate. My playtime was with mouse and keyboard on PC, and clicking the left mouse button at enemies did the job for the most part. While the amount of punches it takes to defeat enemies remains a quandary, I do appreciate the juicy explosions of blood that occur when the requisite number of punches is achieved. These enemies are like big water balloons filled with viscera.

The fight eventually left the surrounding city blocks in smoldering ruin, at which point the gigantic leader of the mole people (the Subterranean King) emerged. He has four arms and wields four laser swords, and definitely took more focus to bring down than his children (his words). He telegraphs his enormous sword swipes, and you must make use of Saitama’s dodge and dash abilities to avoid them, then close the gap to get in a few punches (again, why so many punches? He’s literally the One Punch Man). A couple more quicktime events and the King was dethroned.

Outside of combat you can explore Z-city, which looks very much like a dense area of Tokyo. Convenience stores can sell you meals that provide stat boosts. Arcades are full of One Punch Man takes on classic games like bullet hell shooters and fighting games. At least one of them is playable: Panzer Cyborg, a simplistic on-rails affair where you fly over a city collecting coins and dodging the odd obstacle. (Curiously, it begins by playing music from the NES game Life Force, which is a Konami property. I have to imagine it’s being used as a placeholder for some 8-bit sounding original tune.)

Around town you can take on sidequests and talk to other characters — who might even provide a different point of view of the events of the show.

Other playable characters fans will recognize include Genos, Mumen Rider, Lightning Max, and Atomic Samurai. While you begin the game with just Saitama, other characters will be made available as you encounter them in the story. A PvE raid mode allows you to team up with three other players in order to take down a powerful boss like the Beast King, who first appeared in Episode 2 of the anime.

One Punch Man: World probably isn’t going to knock the socks off fans of action games like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta. Its appeal seems to be to fans of the anime and manga that want to relive some of the epic battles and spend more time with their favorite characters. Those fans can get their punch on for free when it launches later this year for PC and mobile.

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