I can literally only describe this game as a video-game video game. The name, the crappy flash graphics, the insane combo feedback, the whole thing reeks video game. In fact, if you can’t already see it, scroll down and find the image of the in-game cat blocking the screen. That cat isn’t just some easter egg I quickly snapped, she’s the star of her own unlockable mode, and it’s ‘effing awesome. Literally everything you encounter will scream, “I’M A VIDEO GAME,” at you. It borders on Skrillex-dancing levels of crazy and that’s what makes it so absurdly awesome.
It was a surprising find, especially considering its roots. You’d be forgiven for not hearing about One Finger Death Punch; I hadn’t even heard of it until about a week ago. It was released by a small company by the name of Silver Dollar Games who, according to their website, specialise in making cheap games for the Xbox Live indie marketplace. You might have heard of Mount Your Friends or The Impossible Game, but just about everything else they’ve released has gone more or less unnoticed, which makes OFDP even more surprising. For a company that’s cloned more than its fair share of video game ideas, OFDP comes across as strangely unique… Sort of.
It’s pretty obvious that One Finger Death Punch borrowed its fundamental mechanics from Divekick, however, what it’s done with those ideas is what sets this game apart. Left and right mouse buttons attack and that is it, no movement, but instead of a fighting game it’s a brawler-meets-rhythm game of sorts. Enemies will make their way from the edges of the screen until they enter your kung-fu-god-stick-man avatar’s zone of reach, at which point you click the left or right mouse button to smash their blank, lifeless stick faces into oblivion. The rhythm game enters when you encounter multi-hit enemies, requiring a certain combination of left and right mouse clicks to correctly hurl them into an unsuspecting background object. If you miss, or are too slow, you will be open to retaliation, so naturally, the aim of the game is to be as fast as the wind, and as accurate as Chuck Norris’ stare.
From the very first time you start playing, it’s made evidently clear to you by your friendly Chinese-accented announcer that button mashing will not help you, and he’s damn right. If you button mash, you miss, get hit, and die a horrible, stick man death with as much honour on your grave as your first pet goldfish, Larson. Thankfully, everything is tight and responsive, so when you start raking in power smashes, impalements, godly combos, and slo-mo shots to enhance the fact you just shattered that worthless henchmen’s skull, you feel as if you earned it. You’ll feel like a stick figure Bruce Lee when you succeed and regular you, sitting in a chair hitting a couple buttons swearing through your mouth full of Doritos, when you miss. Mind you, what you see on the screen will look nothing like Bruce Lee, but it’s the sheer ball-crunching feel that makes up for the dreadfully horrific aesthetic.
From an outsider’s perspective, One Finger Death Punch looks about as awful something from miniclip.com but more desperately in need of a hug. Everything is functional and well put together, but it looks horribly cheap and – at times – off-putting. This is no more clearly seen than in the map, where the flash-esque bushes and disgustingly tacky river texture work wonderfully together in grinding your eye sockets. Even navigating the map feels cheaply done, which is restricted to centring the camera on an unlocked level instead of being free to move across at with a swipe of my mouse. After a few levels, the kitschy graphics are suddenly supplemented with over the top effects, over-the-top-epic background music, incredibly fast animations, and nonsensical amounts of extravagant displays to make you realise that this is a video game. A glorious, excessive, self-mocking video game.
The game is so over the top and practically Jackie Chan levels of insane that it’s still an incredibly engaging game despite not having any semblance of a narrative. Sure, I can glean that you’re a stick man who’s good at martial arts, but what the hell is going on!? What am I fighting for? Who am I fighting? Do I actually care!? … Well, no. Just like the mechanics, the story has been distilled down to its most important element: I know kung fu and I’m beating up some fools. It’s a wonderfully simplified homage to classic martial arts films that you TOTALLY watched for the plot; some of the levels are even ‘Retro Film Rounds’, played through a sepia filter to make it harder to identify enemies. If you’re looking for a gripping tale of revenge and moral questions, look elsewhere, because all you’ll find here is a video game about gettin’ all drunken fist on hordes of minions, and it’s god damn delightful.
Tron-like nunchaku sequences, insanity inducing feedback, and a cat all entered the One Finger Death Punch tournament, and in the end, the winner was the player. Sacrificing looks for gameplay, this is a game well worth every cent of the $5 asking price, which is a lot cheaper than a kickboxing lesson from that master sensei round the corner. It’s fast, it’s crazy, and it’s god damn awesome. We recommend you take the time to check it out!