One Punch Man: World Hands-on at Comic-Con
Punching my way through Saitama's world at San Diego Comic-Con 2023.
Crunchyroll Games brought the first playable build of One Punch Man: World to San Diego Comic-Con 2023, and I was one of the lucky few to get my hands of the game. One Punch Man: World is being developed by Perfect World for both PC and mobile, but only the PC version was available for play. I’m not completely without some WASD skills, but for those of you who prefer a gamepad, myself included, there will be full controller support when the game launches. For you mobile gamers, the iOS and Android versions will feature controller support through Bluetooth, as well as virtual gamepad controls on screen.
If you’re not familiar with One Punch Man, that’s OK, you can still enjoy the game. I encourage you to watch the show first, though. One, it’s clever and entertaining, and, two, you’ll have a better appreciation for the level of fan service delivered by the game. You can stream it on Crunchyroll, of course.
If you’re already a fan, then you’re in for a treat. The game’s storyline will follow season one of the anime series while expanding on some of the action sequences and filling in some of the off-screen moments. The graphics and art style are true to the original, while giving some of the sequences a more polished look. It mimics the way the show sometimes switches between art styes – I didn’t see any scenes that looked like the simply drawn cuts that appear in the series, but I only spent about a half hour with the game. When the game kicks the graphics up a notch, it doesn’t turn everything into 3D. Rather some of the scenes use lighting to add depth while still staying true to the look of the anime. I felt that it gave things a little pop without making it obvious that you were looking at a videogame rather than an animated show. Sound-wise, the game will feature Japanese vocals with localized subtitles. The lines are all taken from the series, making the dialog truly authentic.
The gameplay is third-person action, with you relying on basic attacks, combos, and unique specials and ultimate to damage and defeat your enemies, while using dodges to move yourself out of harm’s way. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to fight minions, but the game really shines in its boss battles – after all, the boss battles are the highlights of the series. I have to note that none of the boss battles during my brief time with the game featured Saitama‘s signature “one punch” kills – you know, the kind that “disperse” most of the enemy’s body to points elsewhere. Nope, it looks like the fights in this game provide the challenge that Saitama so desperately seeks in the anime series.
The battles are fluid and dynamic in the game – move in to make some quick strikes, dodge out of danger when your opponent tries to retaliate, and once your unique or ultimate attacks recharge, move in close to deal some real punishment. The battle animations have a natural flow to them that makes things appear like a fully animated battle – I didn’t notice any pre-canned animation sequences that had me executing combos into thin air or feeling like I lost control until the sequence completed. As you fight, you’ll notice RPG-style hit numbers appearing at the point of attack – the game randomizes the damage done and gives out the occasional crit.
So, in story mode you’ll spend plenty of time playing as Saitama, but in staying true to the story you’ll have the opportunity to control other heroes in the same fights that they participated in during season one. Each hero plays a bit differently – the controls are the same, but they move a bit differently and have their own unique specials and ultimate. It’s not like the game will change completely each time you switch heroes, but you’ll have to adjust your playstyle a bit depending on who you’re controlling.
If you watch the series, you’ll know that in One Punch Man’s universe there are multiple classes or tiers of heroes. The Class S heroes are the all-stars, called upon to counter the most dangerous monsters, while Class C heroes are relegated to honing their skills on stopping petty crime and hoping to prove themselves worthy of advancement to Class B. You’ll have your change to play as some of the Class C heroes that figure prominently in the series (yeah, yeah, Saitama starts at Class C, I know), as well as Class S heroes like One Punch Man fan-boy Genos and the incarcerated Puri-Puri Prisoner. In this game, though, you won’t be handicapped when handed a hero like Mumen Rider. The enthusiastic but underpowered bike-riding Class C hero becomes just as strong as everybody else in the game, and the bike that is primarily used to provide Saitama a ride in the series becomes a weapon in the game.
When you’re not in the midst of a story sequence you can take some time to explore the world of One Punch Man. The “alphabet” cities from the anime have been recreated as open-world environments. These cities are of the “living, breathing” variety, filled with people going about their day and subject to changing weather and the passing of day into night and back again. This is an interactive world, and during my brief visit I came across an arcade, walked up to a game, and began playing it. I also stopped by a restaurant to browse their fare. There was a good selection to choose from, with the various items providing unique bonuses in fights when consumed beforehand. If you’ve played Yakuza games before, it kind of reminded me of that, minus the random street fights.
You can also take on boss monsters in co-op battles that support up to four players – and if you’re short a friend or two, the AI can fill the unused spots. You can select from the full range of heroes available in the game, trying different team compositions to see how they play off of each other. The heroes’ different abilities give you opportunity to try to play specific roles in a fight, but you’re not locked into anything in order to succeed.
I had fun playing One Punch Man: World, and am eager to have the chance to play it some more. As someone who enjoyed watching the anime, it was a treat guiding Saitama through his Season One adventures. The game will be a free-to-play title, and you can pre-register now.
Transmitted: 10/2/2023 9:08:45 AM