Did I Ever Talk About: One Finger Death Punch?

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Samuel Tow
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Did I Ever Talk About: One Finger Death Punch?
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One Finger Death Punch is available on Steam for 5 Euro or your regional equivalent.

I can't believe I've never talked about this game, because it's so cool and SO addicting. Remember those old stickman fighting videos from back in the day? Well, this is like that, crossed with an old 60s Hong Kong Kung Fu movie where a master martial artist beats up all the people. Best of all, the game only uses two buttons! You wouldn't think a premise as simple as "fight using only the left and right mouse buttons" (as the game instructs you at the start) could have any depth, but it has surprising amounts of it when all of its mechanics are taken into account. You also wouldn't think that a stickman fighting game could look good, but pretty snazzy animations and creative use of effects ensure that this is the case. So let me explain why I feel you should buy One Finger Death Punch.

Basic Gameplay:

One Finger Death Punch is a 2D "fighting" game where swarms of enemies come at you from both sides. You play the "white stickman" and have to fight everybody else. You can't move from where you stand (at least not as you'd think) and can only attack left and right within a certain maximal range. If an enemy is in range, you hit hit him. Some enemies die in one hit, but many don't. If you don't have an enemy in range, you miss and usually take a hit immediately afterwards. Take enough hits and you go down, having to restart the stage. Beat up everybody and you win. Your task is to follow a "path" along a map, with each stop along the path representing a stage which needs to be cleared.

Graphics and Design:

The game has a simplistic character design - everyone is thick-lined stickmen with large heads. However, the stickmen are actually quite well animated. Your character has a wide array of attack animations (even if you don't control which one plays) both in unarmed combat and in using weapons. The backgrounds are actually surprisingly detailed, as well, and feature a lot of "breakable" objects right on the foreground. You can kick people into fruit stands, throw them through glass, pin them to walls with arrows, even knock down entire buildings. This adds A LOT of flair to what is otherwise pretty simple combat when you send people flying through several walls or splatter against the screen. Occasionally, you'll get a slow-mo hit of some nasty description like impaling a guy on a spear or punching somebody's eye out or such. It serves no real purpose but to break up the flow a little and be funny.

The whole game has this feel of an old-style Kung Fu movie, from the corny music to the over-the-top accented narrator telling you that you earned a gold medal by yelling "Gooordu Medu Awodid!" The game's various modes (I'll get to that) also follow some of those old movie tropes. Indeed, there is an "Old Movie Fight" where the game goes all sepia-toned and the sounds are muffled. Sometimes you fight during a thunderstorm at night for dramatic effect, sometimes you deflect thrown daggers with a sword, each stage gives you a different "Fighting Style" which changes your stance and basic attacks. The whole thing has an undeniable charm to it, and that's coming from someone who despises retro-nostalgia.

The Enemies:

You'd think that a game where you only attack left and right would get boring fast, but it's more than just spamming buttons. Your enemies ensure this. Though many enemies (the grey ones) do go down in a single hit, many others (the coloured ones) do not. Some enemies you have to hit multiple times. Worse, some enemies will dodge past you and switch sides when you hit them, requiring you to attack in the opposite direction. Trust me, there are few things more complicated than trying to keep track of three or four enemies who like to jump left and right of you at the same time, rushing to hit them so they don't hit you, but making sure you don't attack in the wrong direction. Indeed, the game penalises you FAR more heavily for missing than it does for getting hit. And those aren't even the worse. The so-called "Brawlers" initiate a whole prolonged one-on-one fight when you hit them, requiring a complex and randomly-generated sequence of left and right attacks to take them down. And that's when the game doesn't decide to be mean and throw you a black question mark enemy so you don't know what kind he is. "Your enemy is strong. Take your time and focus."

The Weapons:

Easily the most entertaining aspect of One Finger Death Punch - at least to me - is the various weapons. The game is chock full of them. You have a variety of melee weapons roughly classed as swords, staves and maces. You also have a variety of ranged weapons - a bow, throwing knives and bombs. Melee weapons extend the range of your attacks so it's a little harder to "miss" but don't do anything past that. Ranged weapons kill anyone they hit instantly (including Brawlers). Ranged weapons have limited ammo, melee weapons you can use for a limited time. Sometimes, enemies will throw weapons at you. Some of them you need to deflect, others you can catch and throw. And then there's the "Ball of Death." If you punch the ball, it flies forward, kills an enemy in one hit and bounces back to you. If you time your attack well, you can hit it again for another kill. You can do this an infinite number of times, but the ball speeds up with every attack. Good luck! Weapons, by the way, show up carried by enemies, so you get them when you kill the carriers.

The Game Modes:

One Finger Death Punch isn't just punching dudes. That's only one of quite a few game modes, known as the "Mob Round." Sometimes you need to fight a "Boss Round" against one or two very special enemies. Sometimes you're tasked to deflect daggers with a sword, or defend yourself with bombs while you die in one hit. There's even a lightsabre round where all enemies die in one hit but they're EXREMELY fast. Sometimes you fight at night where it's harder to see the enemies. Sometimes you fight the same fight multiple times with increasing speed, tasking you to memorise the pattern of your enemies. And even within the same game mode - say from one Mob Round to the next - enemies appear semi-randomly and they're never the same from level to level. Every fight is a new experience, and trust me when I say this - some are A LOT easier than others.

The Skills:

Yes, this game has earnable skills on top of everything. You can earn skills by beating special "out of the way" Retro Film Rounds. The game Has I believe 30 or skills, but you can only have four active at a time. Skills include the ability to use certain weapon classes longer, slow enemies down, kill all enemies on one side, force enemies to back up and so on. You can swap skills around at any time between stages at no cost, for the game has no currency to pay with. I personally chose to use bows and swords longer because I like the weapons Smile

The Challenges:

One Finger Death Punch has what I consider a "fair" system of challenges. At the end of every level, you are graded. You can earn one of four medals (or nothing), and in addition to that you could earn a "Perfect Round." A Perfect Round means you never got hit once. The medals go as follows: Nothing if you missed more than 10 times, Bronze if you missed more than 7 times, Silver if you missed more than 3 times, Gold if you missed at all, Platinum if you didn't miss a single time. As I said - the game values not missing FAR more so than not getting hit. This is a deliberate choice to encourage you to mind your attacks. This is not a button-mashing game. Mash buttons and you will be mocked and ridiculed even if you do live to see the end of the level. That, to me, is easily the game's greatest strength - it's fast and frantic, but it still requires a cool head and precise actions, rather than random panicky flailing.

Story and Characters:

There is no story and the only consistent character is you - the white stickman.

Conclusion:

Buy this game. It costs as much as a Big Mac and it's given me countless hours of fun... As well as a ton of frustration, but that comes with the territory. It's a very, very basic concept expanded upon in a magnificent way and made easily complex enough to carry an entire game. It is a bit repetitive, there's no denying that, but at the cost of 5 Euro even a few hours' worth of fun - and I can all but guarantee you'll get that much out of it - are easily worth the price of admission. The game does have cartoon violence such as slicing stickmen in two and impaling them on spikes, but it's mostly played for laughs - cartoon gore, if you will. It's fairly rare and probably not something to worry about. Just feel obligated to mention it.

Frankly, I have not regretted getting this game at all, and I'm sure you won't, either.