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So, true story: some sort of colossal fuck-up at the Salient offices meant there almost wasn’t going to be a gaming page this week. Baz, our intrepid games editor, was desperate for anything to fill the page, and so he turned to the guy who owns neither a console nor a PC that can play GTA V or Mortal Kombat X. I know, not exactly the smartest move, but I do the best I can. I could have rented a console from the video shop down the road from my flat, but without a membership I’d be paying a $400 deposit just to have it overnight. Yikes.
So, in the interests of ensuring you can have something to fulfil your gaming review requirements from us, I looked for something that wouldn’t break the bank but nevertheless would be twice as fun as anything a triple-A developer can produce these days. Behold, from the depths of a Steam sale from a few years ago: the visceral brawling and intense action of One Finger Death Punch.
Look up Silver Dollar Games on any gaming forum and you’ll likely find a torrential downpour of negativity. Their library of games can be summed up in a single word: shovelware. They all feel like something a couple of kids made for a class project that got out of hand once they got onto Xbox Live Arcade. That’s pretty much what happened anyway. And yet when this developer, the one behind No Luca No of all things, decided to make a 2D brawler with stick-figures, they somehow managed to strike gold.
One Finger Death Punch is so brilliant because it takes fighting games back to basics, and yet feels as fully featured as something like Mortal Kombat. It utilises a unique 1:1 response system which uses only the left and right mouse buttons, your character stands in the centre as enemies come at you from both sides, most only requiring one hit to kill. You’ll need quick reflexes and an attentive eye if you want to truly master this game though, with more difficult enemy types coming along at increasing speeds as you progress through the levels.
I’ve never come across a game that just feels so satisfying to play. Unlike other, more traditional brawlers and fighting games, every click, every move you make, has to count. Don’t think you can just instantly crush your way through the campaign in a few hours by button mashing, because it will not help you—with this game’s brawling system, genuine skill is the only thing that will take you far. Like I said, quick reflexes are a must, but even the quickest fingers will soon be straining as you bust out the combos and punch, kick, slice and dice your way through ten stick-figures at a time.
The game takes much of its inspiration from old school kung-fu movies which, despite your character being a stick-figure, is actually really effective, especially with the soundtrack. A game where kicking ass is the game’s main mechanic needs kick-ass music to back up the action, and this game fucking delivers with fast, crunching beats mixed with the Eastern influence you expect from kung-fu action. The graphics look rather cheap, almost like a mid-noughties flash game on Newgrounds, but with gameplay as tight as it is, the graphics pretty much had to take a back seat. Hell, even TotalBiscuit, he of the FOV slider master race, found a lot to like without giving a single fuck about visuals or the options menu!
Best of all, you don’t even need an expensive console or PC rig to play it. For a game under $10, you’d expect it to run buttery smooth on pretty much anything, and that’s certainly true, except for you poor bastards with expensive, but useless, Macs. It’s even on Android now, so you pretty much have no excuse.
One Finger Death Punch is probably the most fun you can buy on a student budget right now. Fuck GTA, fuck Bloodborne, fuck Mortal Kombat X, and fuck every game you can’t afford right now. Play One Finger Death Punch instead so you can eat this week and still have fun.