Fear does not exist in this dojo!
Sometimes a game appears on the Xbox Indie channel that really impresses me. But for every Escape Goat, Super Amazing Wagon Adventure, Shark Attack or Qrth-Phyl there are 1000 other software abominations stinking up the service. I foolishly and prematurely assumed that One Finger Death Punch would fall firmly into the latter, but it turns out to be one of the most exciting and downright fun games on XBLIG right now.
Essentially a rhythm action beat-em-up, Death Punch is simplicity itself - or so it at first seems. Using only two buttons you must defeat a plethora of foes who enter from the left or right of the screen - X attacks to the left, while B attacks right. That is basically the whole premise, but it belies a large degree of depth and challenge that will have you totally hooked.
Your character stays in the centre of the screen and enemies approach from the sides. You can only attack them when they walk into the coloured zones either side of you - attacking while they are out of range counts as a miss, 10 of which sees you fail the stage. Different coloured foes take multiple hits, while other require a certain combination of button presses to defeat - shown underneath them. When engaged in combat, some adversaries will go into a combo fight with you, requiring you to press the correct buttons as they scroll down the screen - much like many of the music rhythm games out there.
The presentation is top notch, and especially impressive for an indie game costing a meager 80 points. The graphics are sharp, colourful and full of detail, with especially gorgeous backgrounds. The characters themselves may only be glorified stick figures, but they still manage to exude plenty of character thanks to some wonderful animation that really brings the fighting to life. Music is also perfectly suited, ranging from classic Kung-fu movie tracks to more modern electronic tracks. The game also uses a a wise old Chinese fellow (or someone doing their best Kung-fu movie voice impression) to thoroughly explain the mechanics of the game as you progress. The main mode has over 250 stages, comprising many different challenges. These range from standard mob battles - where you must beat the shit out of everyone foolish enough to approach you - to tense boss fights, archery and dagger throwing stages and surviving for as long as you can.
Add into the mix destructible environments that disintegrate or explode upon impact, awesome weapons such as throwing daggers, swords, pikes, bows and a bouncing spike ball that can be repeatedly kicked back and forth to annihilate your enemies, mountains of blood, slow motion and close up death animations and even a skills system, and you are left with an absolute adrenaline rush of a game. It constantly left me with a smile on my face, even when I had just been defeated. It will appeal to anyone who enjoys satisfying, bone crunching fighting, and fast paced arcade style action. It has a level of depth not usually seen in the rhythm action genre, and will have you thoroughly addicted from the very first fight.
I implore you to try One Finger Death Punch out as soon as you can as it's spectacularly enjoyable to play. It is also coming out on PC soon too, so those of you without an Xbox 360 will be able to experience the mayhem. From now on, I will not be so hasty to judge a book (read : game) by it's cover.
Title : One Finger Death Punch
Developer : Silver Dollar Games Inc.
Year : 2013
System : Xbox 360 (indie)