I find that often times free games that have copious in app purchase options (often called "freemium" games) have problems with their gameplay. Unfortunately what consistently happens is the beginning of the game is easy enough but the game drastically becomes more difficult within a short amount of time pushing players to pay for in game items in order to proceed through the game. Many of these games can be completed without making purchases, but only by sinking a significant amount of time into grinding levels, currency, or some other facet of the game that makes you wish you had just paid up. Once in awhile though I'll find a game that bucks the trend and offers a decent amount of enjoyment for cheap or free without getting sucked into repeated purchases, Punch Hero by Gamevil is one such game.
Punch Hero is a pretty straight forward boxing game. You're put into a ring with an opposing boxer and duke it out over the course of three rounds. You're given three basic attacks; jab, hook, and uppercut which opperate in almost a rock/paper/scissors fashion where each attack has benefits and drawbacks. The jab is a quick attack that does the least damage, can be blocked, but can almost certainly not be dodged and will not stop an incoming attack or dizzy your opponent. The hook, which can also be blocked, can often be dodged, but will stop incoming attacks and sometimes will dizzy an opponent. The uppercut, king of attacks, cannot be blocked, is easy to dodge, will stop incoming attacks, and frequently dizzys opponents. In addition to the basic attacks there are also a number of purchasable skill attacks that randomly activate during one of your three normal attacks. The trick really lies in dodging attacks. In order to successfully dodge you must move to the same side the attack is coming from. This means if your opponent throws a left hook, you need to dodge right (think about the respective perspective of the fighters) to duck under it. Dodging hooks and upper cuts leaves your opponent open to a counter attack that lands critical hits. These hits will make or break the fight.
As you progress through the game your character levels up allowing you to put points into your three basic attacks, health, and mental (dizzy protection) stats. You can also buy these skill points with the in game currencies in the training center if you want an edge on your opponent. You can also visit the skill shop to buy skills for your fighter which range from faster attacks to new skills (as previously mentioned). You can also purchase special fighter apparel and customizations for your fighter that in some cases will increase various stats. Some of the most epic pieces will set you back quite a bit of real world cash, but many of the sensible pieces can be had after a few grind sessions.
The standout feature for Punch Hero is hands down the gameplay. After a short bit of adjusting the the controls and how the game works Punch Hero becomes a very fluid experience, which is much more than I can say for the vast majority of Android and iOS games. Gamevil has done a great service to their players by creating a game that feels very skill based rather than feeling like you need to pay to win. This isn't to say that Punch Hero is an easy game. You're going to need some cat like reflexes to proceed very far, that or a deep wallet works as well.
The graphics are also above and beyond what's normally found on smart device games. Punch Hero was actually developed by Cocosoft, who put care and effort into the 3D character models and solid animations. Though it may not stand up to a game as jaw dropping as NOVA 3 or Shadowgun in regards to detail, the graphical experience remains in the top tier of mobile games.
The one big drawback to Punch Hero is the payment method. Though Punch Hero does many things right where other freemium games fail, the end game still begins to unravel into the same old grind forever vs pay a fortune decision. As of this writing there is no unlockable to earn double currency or get ahold of more of the rare "cash" type currency more easily in the game, which is a feature of many other games that would be very helpful. Additionally, the purchases are heavily scaled through the game so that in the beginning a couple real world dollars will buy a decent amount of upgrades, where it will buy next to nothing later in the game. This hides the total end price of the game rather than making a solid single purchase option.
Despite this, Punch Hero is one of my favorite free titles that Gamevil has released. The controls, gameplay, and graphics are all solid creating an experience that, despite the murky purchase model, create a stellar experience. I recommend Punch Hero to anyone that has a familiarity with games and doesn't mind a bit of a challenge.