Sometimes you don’t need to go overboard on visual flair to create an addictive game. Sometimes it’s all about dialing in the right level of gameplay — memorization, style, getting repetition right. One Finger Death Punch 2 from Silver Dollar Games does all of these, while still letting you maul through an army of stick figures like they were, well, toothpicks. Because they kind of are.
The game doesn’t have a plot, per se, but it does have a structure. In the levels mode, you basically make your way through an overworld map, beating up thugs and moving on to the next spot. Eventually, their speed increases and more complex types, like ones that switch positions or get into a button-press brawl with you, arrive. It’s up to you to maintain dexterity and fight them off.
But Capcom Beat-Em-Up Bundle this ain’t. One Finger Death Punch 2 is all about timing your hits. You’re positioned at the center of the screen, and enemies come at you from both sides. It’s a matter of finding that “sweet spot” to take them out, or hit them the right amount of times. Go too early and you’ll miss, leaving yourself wide open for an attack that cuts away at your health. Strike too late, and they’ll hit you first, taking away your energy.
Fortunately, the game puts you through a good tutorial, walking you through how everything works and reminding you — with an awesome kung-fu voice — that you shouldn’t button mash. Once you nail the timing, One Finger Death Punch 2’s gameplay works gloriously well. And it doesn’t feel repetitive either.
Silver Dollar Games animates your warrior with a number of spectacular moves, as well as weapons that add even further to this diversity. Whether you’re stylishly swinging around nunchucks or going all-out with a chainsaw (remember, these are bad guys, so it’s not a terrible thing), you’ll find the animation to be stylish, even with just stick figures. Throw in some well-designed backgrounds and a large set of overworld maps, and you have a game that surprisingly looks the part, even though it’s still in indie territory.
What’s more, there are challenges to each round where you can unlock items. These include a Revenge Token, where you can instantly restart a match without losing much progress; and skill points, which offer better randomness of items, from a weapons cart to a truck that runs through everything to a mighty flaming attack to an eye laser that burns through more than one opponent. Variety is the name of the game here, and it truly pays off for One Finger Death Punch 2.
Along with the visuals, the music is a lot of fun too, offering a mix of classic kung-fu tunes, along with hard rock selections and even some oddball favorites. That, and the narrator is absolutely hilarious, grunting out martial arts lingo like it’s going out of style. “GODDDDLY!”
But the gameplay is the thing. And despite the simple set-up, One Finger Death Punch 2 is wildly successful. Each fight feels even more fantastic than the last, especially as you unlock rewards and pick up the randomness of attacks. The button-pressing mini-games are a blast too, and the boss enemies that pop up actually put up quite a fight, forcing you to concentrate. It’s also great to deflect attacks coming from outside the strike zone, and then turning them around on opponents with dodges or counter-attacks. They’re pretty wild, especially in later settings.
Along with the regular arcade mode, there’s also a survival mode where you go until your health runs out, for the most part. It’s wildly addictive, and has unlockable tiers that get even more difficult as they go on, with a literal tower to climb. It’s very cool, and will keep you plenty busy.
With 26 available skills, the ability to compare your best score with others, and a style that never quits being inventive, One Finger Death Punch 2 clearly stands as one of this year’s best games. It does get a bit on the tough side, and the cosmetics aren’t as varied as you might think (though the ones that are here are pretty groovy). But the visuals, sound and controls all mesh together into one smorgasbord of beat-em-up fun that won’t wear you down. Even if you fail, you can come back, learn something, and be the master of stick figure kung-fu you were born to be. Do not pass up this amazing game.
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