Knock’em Out – PC Review

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Do you ever find yourself in need of an effective way to vent some steam after a hectic day? Instead of punching friends or fellow students/colleagues, game developer Adribeh has kindly created a forum to allow you to safely punch your friends to a bloody pulp with Knock’em Out. This early-access game was released on 4th April. At the moment there’s a sale on reducing the price to £3.99. The developer provides a simple description on its Steam page, “Keep a cool head to knock out your opponents in the most violent and fun way!” I got the chance to get within punching distance with fellow Thumb Culture reviewers Stuart and Kyle to give the game a fair whack. See what we thought below.

A Smash Hit That’s Hard To Beat!

Nothing beats the adrenaline when clutching a win in a fast-paced multiplayer brawler. This fun party brawler is the latest in a line of games where the premise is simple – defeat your opponent in a fight to win the match. Some favourites of mine through the years have been Smash Bros, Gang Beasts, and Pummel Party. Are you a fan of the brawler party game genre? If so, what’s your favourite game that you have good memories of playing?


The game tries to ramp up your adrenaline by featuring dancing characters raving to techno dance music. It’s fair to say it worked. The music and menu screen was enough to get the blood pumping prior to entering battle. The settings and controls seemed easy enough to learn and change to my liking. When entering the hosting screen you are put in a changing room where you can customise your own fighter. There are also different battle modes and arenas to choose from. As it is still in early access, this is just a glimpse at the game’s full potential.

A wrestling arena with three combatants fighting centre screen. Lighting rigs, cranes and work in progress signs clutter the outside of the ring.
Dropping the jokes devastating punch line

With our party of fighters assembled and adrenaline at an all-time high due to the music, we headed out into our first death match. After a false start due to Kyle losing his connection, we regrouped and set about punching each other to victory. The setting is a fully functional factory with conveyor belts, tubes, hazardous drops through holes in the floor, and more. We used these first few battles to get to grips with the controls. We discovered the more advanced attacks and tactics as we progressed. Soon enough we started winning battles and progressing up the leaderboard.

Bomb Voyage!

We introduced more play modes to our fights including Title Champion and Bomb Tag. These added another level and source of tension to the battles. The Title Champion mode gave opponents a title belt which they had to get and hold onto to win. It soon became a mad dash to punch the title holder to get it for yourself and win. With Bomb Tag, it was pretty much the opposite. Whoever had the bomb had to punch someone to pass it on and whoever was left with it blew up. Out of all of the modes I gelled with this one the most managing to avoid contact and pass on the bomb with ease if I had it.

An explosion features to the side of a wrestling ring with vibrant fun house furnishings around it.
Who serious brings a bomb to a fist fight?!

To complicate things further, various melee weapons were dropped into the arenas to make it nearly impossible to get near whoever wielded them. These weapons included a battle axe, a toy squeaking hammer, a land mine, a box with an extendable punching glove, and others. These made dismembering your opponent very easy. Oh, did I mention, the arenas are bathed in blood, arms, legs, and heads by the end of every battle. It is very graphic in battle and everything is made so that your fighting warrior gets pulled apart. Often you will find yourself without arms and legs so you would have to resort to headbutts.

Graphics & Audio

The whole look of the game is vibrant and fun to look at. No colour is safe when the developers are choosing colour pallets. This lends itself well to the theme the devs went for, a comic/cartoon look. A good amount of time has been spent furnishing every scene prior to the game with items both colourful and quirky. The arenas have had just as much attention paid to them. For example at the fun house level, the wrestling arena has been given a colourful overhaul with fun vacuum tubes, conveyor belts, and hazards. At the high-rise level, there’s a helicopter which is a big hazard for anyone being punched into its propellers. 

A vibrant construction site featuring cranes, buzz saws, signs and more. Two characters fight. One is dismembered by the buzz saw with blue point splattered everwhere.
Try not to lose your head!

The music throughout can only be described as quirky, high-energy, and up-tempo dance synth music. A throwback to early 00s games for sure. As mentioned earlier it did serve as a way to get you in the zone for the intense battles to come. The sound effects throughout were well done and in the style that suited the visuals, i.e. a cartoon/comic-like look. Nothing seemed out of place taking you out of the game and I enjoyed the satisfying noises made when battling it out too.


I reached out to the game developer Adribeh to find out more about the development process and the game in general: 

Mal: Do you have any big plans for the future of Knock’em Out?

Adribeh: I want to grow the game much more with a lot of maps, game modes, and skins during Early Access, and on the full release I would like to port it to all consoles if it’s possible.

M: There are three arenas on offer in Early Access. What other arenas will be introduced to the game?

A: For now I’m working on a new arena that will be released in the next weeks. I can only say that the theme is based on pirates.

M: What was your inspiration behind you creating the game?

A: I’ve always liked playing party games, it’s my favourite game genre. The main inspiration was Gang Beasts because it has been one of the games I enjoyed the most and always wanted to make a similar game but with something more unique. I also had inspiration in other fighting games like Super Smash.

M: There are some great power-ups in the game from toy hammers to more deadly axes and mines. Can you give a sneak peek as to what’s planned to be introduced to the game in the future?

A: For now most of them are melee weapons. I would like to add some powerups that give the players temporal abilities like super jump, super speed, or similar things.

M: Knock’em Out is quite bloody compared to other beat-em-ups giving it a unique spin. What caused you to introduce that to the game?

A: I needed to differentiate my game from others, and Party Animals was released near my title, as the most unique thing this game had was extremely cute animals I tried to do the complete opposite, extremely violent and bloody characters.

A character with a purple mask and boxing gloves celebrates with a big sign saying Victory.
Thumb Culture reins supreme!

M: I was quite good at bomb tag. What other modes are planned for the game?

A: I haven’t done a brainstorming for new game modes yet, but I have in mind a game mode called Countdown where the players must stay inside the ring because if they leave a countdown will start for them and if it reaches 10 seconds they will be eliminated.

M: I’ve read it took you around a year to create the game, which is amazing. What are some highs and lows from the development of the game?

A: Actually it was around 2 years. Lows beginning from zero knowledge about ragdoll physics and multiplayer, which are the core of this game, and being the only developer, having no one to share ideas with. Highs are all the experiences learned during the process about all the phases that make up a video game that will be helpful for my next projects.

M: Plans for the future? Any more games in the pipeline?

A: For now I don’t have any game in mind, but obviously, I would like to keep making new games, so I’ll need to have something in mind for the time Knock’Em Out leaves Early Access.

Final Thoughts

This quirky, vibrant, and gruesome party brawler game was so much fun. Like with every early access game, it needs a few things ironing out before it becomes the game it is meant to be. There is promise there though from the detailed arenas, it’s the unique gruesome injuries you get to inflict on the things yet to come like costumes, more arenas, and even more weapons. A solid effort from the developer and a strong contender in this growing genre of beat-em-up games.

A cheerful bearded gentleman with a cap is centre image with a green background

A smiling bearded person is centre image with a bright background

I award Knock’em Out Thumb Cultures Silver Award!

Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.

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