While traditional arcade brawlers are obsolete in many people’s eyes, the flow of combat, the simplified gameplay style, and complex ways that said style is implemented are still fascinating. A good brawler takes full advantage of a player’s rhythm to create a glorious carnage that you can’t get anywhere else. In fact, when you bring it down to its essence, a game like Double Dragon is just a rhythm game. One Finger Death Punch 2 seems like a distilled version of that and a proudly rhythmic brawler with fine-tuned action and tons of style. You will feel every blow these stick figures deal out, and, if this demo is anything to go by, you’ll probably love every minute of it.
Starting life as a title on Xbox Live Indie Games, the original One Finger Death Punch was an innovator with many imitators. It was easy to build on the stick figure graphics and simple gameplay idea to your own ends, so we saw plenty of games borrow some or all of it. Although the game did end up on Steam eventually, it has remained relatively obscure; something that the sequel hopes to change. You’re still kicking and punching with just a pair of buttons and one finger but the team at Silver Dollar Games has found numerous ways to extend that out and made gameplay worthy of a numbered sequel.
One Finger Death Punch 2 Preview | Stuck in my ways
The basics are the same. Karate goons march towards you at either side. You need to press corresponding buttons to take them down. The fun comes in just how varied this simple action can be. Gameplay runs at a crazy fast pace, adding to the intensity of the action. In addition, there are countless animations for taking down foes, playing seemingly at random as you go. When you lunge toward an enemy, you can pull off anything from flying kicks to Mortal Kombat uppercuts.
Speaking of, One Finger Death Punch 2 will occasionally throw in finisher animations if you’re keeping up with the action. These also have a great variety and draw from various inspirations. There are the MK-style spine rips and other quick kills. There are also slow super moves where background art you might see on the side of a carnival haunted house flashes in the background. On paper, it reads as scattershot, but it all fits together wonderfully in-game because of the aforementioned variety and pacing.
One Finger Death Punch 2 Preview | The bleeding
This sequel changes things up in a lot of the same ways that the original did. Enemies will hop from one side of the screen to the other, while some require multiple hits to take down. Some enemies go at you one on one, bring up a DDR-style lane of button presses to clear before continuing. Other enemies pack weapons, from the appropriate swords and staves all the way up to shotguns and sniper rifles. Once defeated, you can grab these weapons as part of your combo and take down other foes in one hit. There are even boss encounters that combine different fighting styles to keep you on your toes.
Level hazards also come into play. There are shuriken to dodge or catch and throw back Jack Burton style. Some levels have lethal “death balls” to kick around and thin out the herd and are a lot of the same skills to unlock as you go through the campaign. These give you weapon drops and other bonuses as you go, keeping up the variety. Since you can now have as many active as you want, they all can make gameplay quite a bit more chaotic, which is what a game like this thrives on.
One Finger Death Punch 2 Preview | Now with eyes!
While this is all similar, the sequel goes to great lengths to make everything pop. The graphics have seen a significant upgrade while staying true to their simplistic roots. You can customize your stick figures with eyes and clothes if you want, but it’s purely optional; a good compromise that changes things up while pleasing fans of the original. The music is what you’d expect from the kung fu aesthetic, but nothing special. One Finger Death Punch pairs pretty well with synthwave if you want to mix things up.
The Steam demo covers the basic tutorials as well as a good chunk of the first world. These are only the “Mob” levels, but the store page promises additional level types in the full game. It remains to be seen if changing up the style of gameplay will work with a formula this simplistic, but the demo gives me high hopes. One Finger Death Punch is a gloriously fun arcade-style experience and it’s good to see the developers experimenting with the sequel. It certainly looks like we’ll have a lot to look forward to when the full game hits on April 15.
GameRevolution previewed One Finger Death Punch 2 on PC via Steam with a free demo.