I tried a 20-minute full-body workout with Quell's new fitness game — here's what happened

Woman working out with the Quell Impact gaming system
(Image credit: Quell)

Ever since the Nintendo Wii Fit exploded onto the gaming scene in the mid-2000s, many other studios have tried to replicate its success, but few succeeded. Nintendo’s spiritual successor, Ring Fit Adventure landed in 2019, just before the pandemic and was a big hit.

As fun as these games are, they’re designed to add gentle movement to your day rather than try to replicate a full strength training or cardio-focused workout. But Quell, the UK-based startup behind the Quell Impact gaming system and Shardfall fitness game, hopes to change that.

Instead of a balance board (Wii Fit) or Pilates ring (Ring Fit Adventure), the Quell Impact consists of two handheld controllers and a waistband with fitness-tracking sensors. You attach resistance bands to the waistband and wrist straps, allowing you to work your muscles as you game.

The Quell Impact is available from today (June 4) for $269 from Quell’s store. To play the company’s first title, Shardfall, you’ll need to take out a Quell Membership for $79.90 per year. This includes access to the game, downloadable content and new titles as they’re released. Note that you'll need a PC or Mac to play, and Quell lists the recommended specs. 

Although Shardfall seems like a straightforward blend between a platformer and auto-run game like Super Mario Run, the company uses “procedurally generated worlds, fights and rewards tailored to your fitness goals and skill level,” that adjust as you get stronger and fitter.

Although going to the gym or out for a run can be a great way to stay fit, workouts don’t have to look a certain way to be effective, so Quell’s new platform caught my interest. But I was worried that it’d feel a bit like a gimmick, put gaming first and fitness second, or just not be that enjoyable. 

But then I got the chance to try the Quell Impact and Shardfall at the company’s London offices a few weeks ago. I’d been told to ‘come in workout clothes’ though I didn’t expect to really need it. But after 30 minutes of gameplay, I was sweating and out of breath.

Instead of using the controller’s buttons, you need to punch, jab, block, and avoid your opponent’s attacks. The bands attached to your wrists add resistance, working your muscles even harder.

To move forward in the game, you need to run on the spot, varying the intensity. As you progress along the path, there are obstacles, so you jump and squat to avoid them. This is the cardio-focused part of the game. However, at the end of each level, there’s a boss to defeat.

But instead of using the controller’s buttons, you need to punch, jab, block, and avoid your opponent’s attacks. The bands attached to your wrists add resistance, working your muscles harder than if you did each punch unaided. And, like with the running, the intensity varies.

As I don’t usually do much cardio beyond walking and rarely engage the muscles required for punching, I could feel the effects of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) the next day. It was a surprisingly novel way to work out and it feels like Quell has actually put fitness first, without losing focus on the game.

I’ll be testing the Quell Impact and playing Shardfall over the coming weeks and will report back on what the experience is like training alone at home. But, for now, it seems promising, so long as Quell can deliver on the additional games to make the membership be a good value for money.

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James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is Tom's Guide's Fitness Editor, covering strength training workouts, cardio exercise, and accessible ways to improve your health and wellbeing. His interest in fitness started after being diagnosed with a chronic illness, and he began focusing on strengthening his core, taking regular walks around the city, and practicing meditation to manage the symptoms. He also invested in fitness trackers, home workout equipment, and yoga mats to find accessible ways to train without the gym. Before joining the team at Tom’s Guide, James was the Fitness Editor at Fit&Well, where he covered beginner-friendly exercise routines, affordable ways to boost your wellbeing, and reviewed weights, rowing machines, and workout headphones. He believes that exercise should be something you enjoy doing, so appreciates the challenge of finding ways to incorporate it into everyday life through short muscle-building sessions, regular meditation, and early morning walks.