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One Finger Death Punch Review: One Punch, One Kill
When I was younger one of my hobbies was a passion for watching (and later attempting to make) stick figure animations like the flash ones that became so popular online in the early 2000s. In spite of the number of these animations, they all more or less followed the same format – a lone white stick figure would fight off dozens to even hundreds of bad guys using martial arts and any other weapons he could find along the way. It was like the fight scenes of The Matrix films transposed over stick figure animations. One Finger Death Punch more or less attempts to revive this animated fad in an interactive way that makes it one of the most fun and satisfying brawlers I’ve played in years.
The premise of One Finger Death Punch is simple: you control your solitary white stick figure in the center of the screen as he takes on countless waves of enemies. When enemies get close enough, players tap left or right to strike them down with the goal of timing your strikes well enough to avoid missing or taking damage – either of which will bring your combo score to an end. Most enemies take a single hit to go down but it soon introduces special colored enemies that require certain combinations of strikes to take down or have the ability to dodge your first strike against them. The combat system is the very epitome of “easy to learn, hard to master” and the way it penalizes button mashing encourages you to really go all out and push your stick figure’s martial arts to their absolute limit.
One Finger Death Punch is structured around an overworld map with over 250 different stages (with three difficulty levels) for the player to compete. Beating stages earns players points and unlocks Skills. These Skills act as perks that improve the capabilities of your stick figure protagonist through things like increasing the length of power-ups or attack range.
There’s a ton of variety here and many of the stages present unique modifiers such as time or weapon limits, Speed Rounds where the enemies throw themselves at you twice as fast and the ever-fun Light-Sword Round where you gain the temporary use of a Star Wars-inspired weapon and stylishly fight off silhouetted enemies. Thunderstorm Rounds were also particularly challenging as they blind the player to the color of enemies, making it more a more challenging but satisfying experience. There is also a survival mode that’s unlocked after players beat the tutorial.
One Finger Death Punch is a spectacle to behold once you get your combo-ball rolling. As your combo starts to rise and you get into a rhythm, the action becomes as subtle as an episode of Dragonball Z with your character zipping between and striking down enemies at high speed. While the game doesn’t initially look all that impressive from a visual angle, I think there’s a kind of charm to the low budget art in the game. Additionally, there are a lot of nice visual touches in the game like power strikes, blood splatters and special unique kill animations (including one shamelessly stolen from Mortal Kombat to great effect). The music also really helps players get into the game’s brilliant tone and it always seems to swell to an exciting climax as you approach the end of hundred-strike combo.
There’s something to be said for a game only using two buttons and managing to feature combat more exciting and engaging than most AAA releases; not since last year’s Divekick (read our review) has a game achieved such a combat system with such a brilliant level of fun and depth through simplicity. The only thing I feel One Finger Death Punch lacks is a head-to-head competitive mode, but even without it there’s still an absolute truckload of content here and it’s all an absolute blast.
In a number of cool ways the rhythmic gameplay reminded me a lot of the recently released KickBeat – although a hell of a lot more fun to play. On top of all that, the game ran like a dream and I didn’t encounter any technical issues whatsoever – something surprising given the amount of crazy action happening on the screen at any time in the game.
Silver Dollar Games provided us with a copy of the game’s new Steam version for the purposes of this review.