Action games can be a real blast because the challenge of nailing a difficult combo or taking out a hoard of enemies without a scratch in return is exhilarating and fun. Kung Fu movies are also really great. Watching the hero beat the ever-living hell out of a hoard of enemies with barely a scratch in return is hilariously entertaining and enjoyable, from the Bruce Lee days all the way to the absurdly fun Man of Tai Chi (Yes, the one directed by Keanu Reeves).
Enter One Finger Death Punch, a perfect combination of both that sets a new high standard for action games
One Finger Death Punch, developed by Silver Dollar Games, is an action game with two controls, much like the fighting game Divekick. Players use the left or right mouse buttons (or arrow keys, or ‘B’ and ‘N’) to attack enemies to the left or right of them on a two-dimensional one-level field. Enemies come at varying intervals from both directions, but can’t be attacked until they enter the player’s range of attack; about an inch and a bit to either side. On a random basis this range can be ignored in a combo, and some enemies drop weapons that extend the range for a period of time.
The first few levels of the game gradually introduce the player to these concepts gradually, as the Asian-accented narrator explains other gameplay mechanics in a voice that sounds like it belongs in the Five Deadly Venoms – and it’s perfect.
Playing One Finger Death Punch is dangerously addicting for several reasons; the first of which is that it is incredibly satisfying to watch your stick figure hero stylistically murder other stick figures at your command. It feels as though you were entering the combos yourself, but the complexity of this simple-seeming game comes not from the fighting, but from strategy, timing, and focus. As the player improves and begins to be hit less and miss less, the game’s difficulty automatically adjusts by way of speed. With each advancing level comes more and more complex enemies which change the number of hits required to defeat them, that dodge your attacks, or special Brawler types that require an extended duel to finally kill them.
But the better the player does, the faster they come. Early on, the player will probably surge ahead depending on their reflexes and personal learning curve, but once enemies that require three or four hits of patterned left and right clicks start coming in droves at high speeds the game will settle itself to a speed that works. And if it over-compensates, it’ll ratchet right back up.
This gets at what naturally sets great games apart from the mediocre ones; the little things. Random feats of Kung Fu brilliance are abound as the player gets smashes, “snaps,” and combo moves that defy the laws and physics and even the game’s own rules.
The first time the game slows down to zoom in on your character’s punch and x-ray’s the enemies shattering rib cage, I challenge you not to chuckle. As the bodies of your enemies get smashed and impaled on the destructible environment, the sounds of the destruction will make you feel right at home in your very own beat-’em-up.
One Finger Death Punch features two modes of play: Level and Survival. Level puts the player on a humongous map as they travel from fight to fight. Each level has a different theme, with the most common being “Mob Round” where a huge number of enemies must be dispatched to proceed.
Other levels, such as Knife Round, limit you to only a throwing weapon – and only one can be thrown at a time, making players time their attacks to keep from getting hit. Smash rounds take advantage of the dynamic environment, making the goal not the defeat of a certain number of opponents but the destruction of a certain number of objects – by smashing them with enemies. Levels are also shaken up by reducing the standard life of 10 hits – sometimes down to 1, forcing the player to fight perfectly.
Survival mode is a classic arcade setup. The player simply defeats as many enemies as they can while the complexity and speed of the enemies constantly increases. After a certain number of kills a bonus round begins where the player can’t be damaged normally, but lasting long yields additional health to keep the fight going strong. If you did well? Add your high score to the community.
This is a game that gets everything it sets out to do right. It’s extremely fun to play, addicting, polished, and has a balance of gameplay and style that makes spending hours on it feel natural. One Finger Death Punch truly pushes the limit to what makes an indie game “indie,” outshining tons of other titles with sheer enjoyability alone.