There is beauty in simplicity. Of course, there is room for flourish and embellishment, however with the AAA publishers tripping over themselves and spending an absurd amount of capital to out shine, out bloom, and out render each other to show they can make pretty games with all the color schemes of gun metal grey and dog turd brown, it is possible to go too far.
One Finger Death Punch is a product that Silver Dollar Games created in the space of a game jam, which often last for as long as 48 hours. Considering that the control scheme of the game consists of the left and right mouse buttons, and only the left and right mouse buttons, it is not that hard to believe that the game was able to make it from concept to reality in so short a time. Yet, the simplicity of One Finger Death Punch’s design allows for greater complexity, without miring the player in seemingly pointless fluff that many more games suffer from these days.
There is no story to speak of. And that is a good thing. After all, how much can one say with stick figures beating the life out of each other unless it is a webcomic with only a few panels and poignant statements told with as few words as possible? Not a lot. However, an attempt at story would not be possible for a game so small, and it would almost be entirely outside of the point. So, the game has no story and we need not worry about it at all.
As previously stated, One Finger Death Punch has only the two mouse buttons for its combat. The left button attacks incoming enemies on the left and the right button attacks incoming enemies on the right. The player cannot move the stick figure character on their own and only moves when there is something within the attack range of the player. It does seem simple on the surface; enemies charge and the player attacks with a mouse click. This enables the developers to develop depth with this simple control scheme as a stable foundation.
The enemies, also shaped like stick figures with minor aesthetic differences between them, rely on numbers and, naturally, stronger versions of enemies to overwhelm the player. Underneath each enemy, there is a number which tells how many hits it will require to defeat the enemy. Later in the game, the player will encounter the first of other types of harder enemies, called brawlers, to dispatch. These enemies require anywhere between five and fifteen different key commands to overcome. Thankfully, should the player already be fighting multiple enemies, the rest of the mob will back off and allow the dramatic duel to continue. The middle ground between the one hit mooks and the brawlers are enemies with much more distinct colors that can take hits from one side or another. Attention will be required with these, as they can switch sides after the player’s attack to continue the combo and there is no reprieve from the other oncoming attackers. Strategy must be employed if the player is to survive.
There are also one on one boss fight stages that pit the player against an enemy that drives home the idea that spamming one of the two mouse buttons will, without fail, lead to defeat. Beside the boss stages, there are multi-section stages, endurance, performance, and a variety of weapon stages. Weapons are also prevalent in many stages, ranging from staff weapons, daggers, bows, nunchaku, balls, and swords. They all have limited use and can easily turn the tide against a seemingly hopeless situation. For example, the Death Ball can be flung against an enemy and struck again to strike another, regardless of what kind of enemy it is, which can help clear the brawlers and multi-hit enemies that will inevitably swarm in the higher difficulties.
Speaking of difficulty, the better the player does, the faster the enemies can gain charge. Do poorly and the speed goes down to something more manageable until the player can achieve a better medal. It gives a wonderfully simple desire to achieve the high score on the leaderboard. In fact, one could say this is the kind of game that could have been in the arcades of decades past. It would have fit in perfectly.
Despite the many, many good things about this game, the one glaring fault is that once the game starts to speed up, it can be very difficult to keep track of the direction the player has to attack in order to survive and not miss as missing can break the streak and make the player vulnerable. Another slight problem is the soundtrack. There seems to be only a small number of songs and it will not take long to hear the same song over and over and over.
That being said, One Finger Death Punch is worth the time and money. Given that it is only five dollars, it is highly encouraged to purchase the game directly from the developer. It is a simple and beautiful game that goes to the core of what makes a game entertaining with the fewest possible controls.
So, it is highly recommended that once this article has been read, everyone who reads this should go and purchase it directly from the developers. Silver Dollar Games. Really. Go buy it. Support smaller devs. Save the industry. NOW!