Game Review: One Finger Death Punch [PC]
It’s nice to be offered a review assignment blind these days. Too often a title can be on my radar over 12-months in advance of release with expectations already (albeit not always correct) set, but this is the joy of the Indie game. Having no expectations (or even knowledge) of Silver Dollar Games’ One Finger Death Punch when loading up gave me a nice and fuzzy feeling …not unlike a Kinder Surprise!
When fired up I was presented with some martial arts imagery and treated to some accompanying/suitable ‘epic’ feeling oriental pipa and pipes tune reinforcing my suspicions that this was going to be a fighting game (plus the name may have tipped me off – duh!). The instruction of “Click Mouse” throbs at me beckoning me inside. My hopes of learning how to kill a man with one finger may be coming true!
Within moments I was looking at, what I thought was, a simple stick man fighting game. These faceless stick folk being instantly reminiscent of Xiao Xiao’s 2001 series of flash cartoons featuring intricately choreographed fight scenes. For 5-minutes of playing I was nonchalant to One Finger Death Punch. Then I realised, it wasn’t 5-minutes I was playing, it was 30-minutes. I had gone full Zen and become one with the game.
The premise is simple. You play a basic lined figure with similarly formed enemies appearing and approaching from either side of the 2D screen. Your task is to attack left (with the left button or X on Xbox) and right (with B on Xbox or on the PC …yeah, you get it). Wave after wave they jostle towards you and as soon as they reach your “attack zone” (a rectangle area either side of your sprite) you can unleash fury with a push of a button.
Left, left, right, left. One Finger Death Punch has more in common with Dance Dance Revolution than a traditional fighting game. As the levels progress, the enemy prowess and methodology changes, throwing more and more completed “attacks” at you. These in turn need more complicated rhythmic timings (some require you to complete mini combo sequences to kill them). “Sounds simple!” you say. Well, yes and no. Precision is key; one does not simply button mash. Doing so leaves you open to being hit and too many hits equals game over (“Button mashing will kill you” a warning sign even tells you). Speed is another factor. The rate at which the game plays is dizzying at times with multiple enemies of multiple attack types all requiring a different key sequence to defeat, and a varying speed that goes up and up the better you do.
The graphics suit the premise (simple stick people!). Backgrounds aren’t always clear what’s going on – especially in the heat of the moment, but the animations are solid. The amount of work gone into attacks looking varied and random is quite staggering. Nice touches are aplenty also, such as during the slow-mo events when eye-balls fly at the screen and bodies rag doll off in various directions. On the downside the same can’t be said to the presentation such as the menu’s and that world map, which quite frankly is awful and ugly. You know what? It doesn’t matter. Like Guitar Hero or DDR you don’t really focus too much on what’s going on around the screen. You’re just looking out for those two zones and getting the timings correct.
Although it can be easy to get lost in staring at those two attack zones, other elements come into play such as the environment and weapons. Enemies will attack with a host of different melee tools which once dispatched will leave them available to you to wield in retaliation. These often increase the size of the attack zone available giving you a bit of breathing room from the squall and also look damn fancy to boot. Some of these can be thrown or even, such as the Ball of Death, be punched/kicked at your enemies. Keeping this ball bouncing back and forth can be very satisfying and allows you to rack out some good combo’s. As the combo’s build up they allow you to unleash “Free Hits” (mashable attacks without fear of over clicking) or if you’ve unlocked some of the perks (21 different ones in total) will trigger these, such as when picking up a bow, you can fire 3 arrows rather than 1.
When zooming out on the map I was very surprised how many levels the developers had created. However variations of these levels are another matter. The paths across the world lead you from one brawl to the next with some special levels such as using a “light sword” (trademark intact) or boss battles to unlock special perks. Regrettably these all follow the same pattern, but with a just a varying difficulty or slight twist (fighting the dark, levels get faster and faster etc). The audio in the game is a different kettle of fish. For (effectively) a rhythm game the music BPM is high, suitable, dare I say catchy and sound of the crunches, punches, whacks and Wilhelm’s are decent enough. This aspect really adds to the overall presentation and gameplay.
Not a tremendous amount is available in the way of replayability unless you like to challenge yourself (watching a few videos on YouTube some folks have managed to rack up over 5000 kills in the games survival mode), however for many once you’ve encountered all the different enemy types, game modes and played a few boss battles I’m unsure who would want to play through to completion the 250 stages, 13 modes and 3 difficulties.
One Finger Death Punch is a finger frenzying game. Silver Dollar Games have given us a title that for minimal input from two buttons (and cost!) gives 200% of bone-crunching and tactile killing output back at you. It’s 1:1 “feel” gives you a direct connection between player and character and makes you believe it was your own mad-ninja-skills that pulled off those martial-arts moves that even the Wachowski siblings would be impressed with. Going back to my original analogy, overall One Finger Death Punch is like a Kinder Surprise toy …but a good one. It’s surprising and entertaining, but maybe only for a short while.