Review – Pulling No Punches (Switch)

Living in a pandemic wasn’t easy for anyone. We were locked in our homes, not knowing when we would be able to get out ever again, fearing for a disease which could be spread to our loved ones, and, to make matters worse, seeing those who weren’t taking the situation seriously carelessly walking around and spreading misinformation in various selfish ways. We have all had heated arguments with more ignorant family members, started reconsidering some friendships, and changed our lifestyles for a while. In short, we were feeling frustrated. We were getting angry, whether we wanted to or not. Pulling No Punches, a small beat ’em up made by indie Brazilian studio BrainDead Broccoli, is almost like a cathartic representation of our anger in game form.

Pulling No Punches Middle Finger

There is a “flip the bird” button. It has no use other than, well, telling someone else to **** off.

Here at WayTooManyGames, we tend to leave politics aside for the most part, because we know that is a subject that will never, ever result in reasonable arguments and discussions in the heated, reaction-based cesspit that is social media. But Pulling No Punches was something that I particularly wanted to look into. It was a game clearly made by angry Brazilians who had to go through some hellish pandemic years, and that makes it one of the most niche experiences I have ever played on the Nintendo Switch. COVID-related frustrations were commonplace around the world, but this is aimed at frustrated Brazilians who had to deal with some crap between 2020 and 2022. However, seeing as how I am one of those, I was curious to see what this was all about.

The country was divided. Well, it still is to this day. The government was constantly spreading misinformation, devaluing the importance of vaccination and social distancing, promoting unproven medicine, and manipulating its loyal voting base to basically go rabid against those opposing them. It wasn’t nice, let’s just put it this way. It affected our mental health in one way or another. Pulling No Punches basically offers this specific demographic a very cathartic means to vent out these inner frustrations with a decent, albeit short and tiresome beat ’em up, where the objective is simple: beat the living hell out of denialists and other corrupt officials.

Pulling No Punches Laura

I wonder if non-Brazilians will get more than a third of the in-game references.

Think of it as a Final Fight/Streets of Rage clone with some gross-out humor and animations. Instead of gang members, you are punching pandemic denialists, far-right bloggers, televangelists, flat-earthers, and people infected with hydroxychloroquine. Although you are literally doing the opposite of what social distancing should be, it was intially very cathartic. I can’t deny the effort put into Pulling No Punches‘ visuals. Likewise, I can’t deny that the premise was very appealing at first. The controls felt good, with each character having lots of moves at their disposal. By collecting some books scattered throughout each level, I’d also learn new moves, such as a sliding kick or a sidestep evasion. Good stuff, at least in the beginning.

The first couple of levels were the kind of catharsis I was expecting from this game. It felt humorous, but also exactly the kind of frustration venting needed after some crappy years locked at home. Bosses were funny representations of the ones who made our lives miserable over the past years. But weirdly enough, for such a short game (it only features four levels), Pulling No Punches started to drag on with its message, becoming more absurd, more on-the-nose, and sadly, more annoying. That might be a result of us having dealt with these frustrations elsewhere over the last year or so, with the game almost making us relive and remember us of these issues which depressed us during the pandemic.

Pulling No Punches Televangelists

I can’t think of another game which features a televangelist as a boss. Kudos, Pulling No Punches.

There were other issues as well, namely some occasionally poor enemy AI, collision detection issues, and a repetitive soundtrack. Although, I guess my biggest issue with Pulling No Punches was the fact that, at the end of the day, it may have outstayed its welcome. When the gross-out satire started becoming some that almost felt like a body horror piece, I started to get a bit bored with its premise, as novel and catered to my liking as it was. Thankfully, by that point, I was heavily upgraded with stat boosters and new moves, so beating the hell out of enemies and bosses somewhat made up for the tiresome storytelling. Also, the game is beatable in less than two hours. The moment I noticed it was about to end, I just felt like beating it anyway.

Pulling No Punches Weapons

Taking the expression “to flag someone” to new levels.

Pulling No Punches is a very hard sell unless you fall into its specific target audience: fed-up Brazilians who had to deal with a stupidly stressful couple of years during the pandemic. If you fall into this niche demographic, this is the catharsis you’ve been waiting for. If not, you can still have fun with its good controls and decent art style, but the in-game jokes and overall premise will mean nothing to you. I cannot deny that it was a somewhat bold attempt to deliver a message via a well-put game on a console known for being downright allergic to political statements, however. If anything, kudos for the ambition.


Graphics: 7.5

A well-animated game with gross-out character designs and some decent cutscenes. The art style might not be appealing to everyone, but I can’t deny the effort put into Pulling No Punches‘ visuals.

Gameplay: 7.0

It controls well enough, and I appreciate the inclusion of unlockable moves and stat upgrades. It lacks a bit of polish, though, as some bosses can be cheesed with ease, while other enemies can lock you in a perpetual state of pain due to collision issues.

Sound: 6.0

Not exactly bad, but incredibly repetitive. That’s mostly due to how short the game is, resulting in a minuscule collection of background tunes.

Fun Factor: 6.5

As a beat ’em up, it’s decent. As a statement, it’s really appealing to a very specific demographic, but it doubles down excessively in its message, even if I agree with it. It’s also too short, being beatable in about two hours at most.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Pulling No Punches is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, and Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Pulling No Punches was provided by the publisher.