GAME REVIEW: One Finger Death Punch

One Finger Death Punch is a Kung Fu fighting game released by Silver Dollar Games in March 2014 with an extremely simple control scheme. So simple that it only uses two buttons–one to attack left, and one to attack right. If you attack when there’s no enemy within range, then you miss and leave yourself vulnerable to attack. And for the most part that’s all you need to know. The game punishes button-mashing (randomly and rapidly pressing buttons) because missing an attack is the last thing you want to do.

Of course, there are some complications. Enemies sometimes drop weapons. Some give you unlimited range one-kill hits like bow and arrows, throwing knifes and bombs. Others just give you extended range for a limited period of time like swords, clubs, and some sillier ones like fish.

Most enemies are gray enemies that take a single hit that you can give as soon as the enemy’s within range. Some of the enemies will be different colors, and will require multiple hits. Under each of these you will see a list of the hits that enemy will take–so an enemy approaching from the right may have colors under it that show right-left-left, which means that when you attack to the right they’ll dodge around you, and then will block one left hit before you kill them with another left hit. This doesn’t make a lot of sense that a fighter would know exactly what moves ahead of time, but it’s still challenging in the game.

The toughest enemies are brawlers. They can take anywhere from like five hits to several dozen. Instead of showing all their moves ahead of time, you have to hit them once to engage and then all the moves scroll past rapidly and you have to keep up as they scroll past until you can finish them off.

As you navigate your way around the game map, you can finish special levels to unlock special moves. These can be from the relatively mundane like swordman skill which will allow you to keep each sword for three times as long, to magical abilities like the ability to freeze all the enemies in one direction or to cause an earthquake that kills everything on the screen no matter how difficult the enemy. You can unlock a couple dozen skills, but can only equip three at a time at the lowest difficulty (four when you unlock the next level). My particular favorite was the Three Arrows skill (that lets you shoot three arrows with each bow instead of one), the Deep Impact (that kills all the enemies on the screen), the Grey Out skill (that turns all enemies into gray weaklings for thirty seconds), and the Heal skill (that heals one health).

Visuals
Simple look, but I like it. When your character has random power hits, there are extra visuals as you see an x-ray of the opponents bones breaking or an eyeball flying toward the camera, or etc. Simple look, but I think it works well.

Audio
I feel like the audio adds to the game, if only for the sounds of the impacts of each attack, making it feel more real.

Challenge
I found the game pretty easy early on, but the difficulty of the levels scale up as you go, and the game automatically scales difficulty by speeding up as you show proficiency, so there should be plenty of challenge. I like how the challenge comes from accuracy of your reactions not button mashing. Well designed for that. I find that the limiting factor isn’t my reflexes or my understanding of the game mechanics, but in my eyesight–if I play for too long I have trouble focusing on oncoming enemies to gauge my movements well enough.

Story
No story.

Playability
Very playable. You can’t get simpler to learn, but also is challenging enough to make the playtime worthwhile. Your progress is saved at the end of every level and you succeed or fail at a level within a few minutes so it’s easy to just pick up and play for a bit at a time.

Replayability
Even though the gameplay doesn’t change significantly, playing through different levels makes the pattern vary enough to be fun. I find myself picking the game up for a few minutes here and there even though I’m not focusing a lot of time on it anymore.

Originality
The story and action itself, nothing new. But two button gameplay that relies on accuracy and punishes button-mashing–that’s a wonderful simple original idea executed perfectly.

Playtime
I’ve spent 14 hours playing it, to get through all the levels at the first two difficulty levels (that includes a fair amount of failures). Assuming you like the game you could spend as much time on the game as you like (there are three difficulty levels in total).

Overall
The full list price on Steam is $5. If this description sounds appealing, I think you’ll love the game, and at that price it’s an easy buy. I thought it was a lot of fun. (I happened to get it half off, even better)