If you were around the Internet in the early 2000′s, you might know about the Xiao Xiao Flash animations that became fairly popular back then. It’s basically stick figures doing martial arts fight choreography, which must have been the inspiration for this game. This is not the heavy metal band Five Finger Death Punch; this is One Finger Death Punch by Silver Dollar Games, a pretty good action title from the Xbox Live Arcade.
Even if it wasn’t actually the inspiration for this game, the similarities with Xiao Xiao are quite obvious, and this game takes a lot from its visual style. As for how it handles combat, it’s less about drawn-out sequences and more on one-hit KOs on each opponent. The game starts with your stickman in the middle, enemies coming from both sides in quick succession, and you can press either X or B to hit grey enemies. Later on, a few more mechanics like weapons are thrown in to make gameplay more complicated, but not too overwhelming that you can’t possibly get used to it with some practice. In fact, this game is all about practice.
At first glance, you may not think much of this game as it seems like a Flash game that you’d typically see in Newgrounds or Kongregate. Even its controls are overly simplistic, making use of only two buttons to dispatch foes. If you’re looking around Xbox Live Arcade and see this game, it’s easy to look past it. However, the user review scores are quite high, and you may just get curious over why it had players raving about it. So you buy this dollar game and realize its true quality. It looks simple because it’s one of those games that are easy to learn, but hard to master.
It has that Guitar Hero vibe going on with its color-coded gameplay and the rhythm that soon becomes obvious. However, it’s not a music game at all, but it does make use of rhythm to make up the overall kinesthetics of the game, which players will definitely feel with every blow. The feedback comes from both the visuals and the sounds, as well as the reward mechanism within you that gets tripped with every enemy you hit each time. It then becomes a very addicting feeling that pulls you into this game. One Finger Death Punch is perhaps one of the best examples of kinesthetics in gaming.
Playing this game like fighting itself, where you don’t have time to think about your next move. If you take time to think for even just a second, the physical inaction is then punished severely. So you have to keep your guard up and attack constantly to not let your opponents get the upper hand. Your offense can only become truly effective by honing both instinct and muscle memory. Acquiring those two things is done in training, and you’ll get a better feel for this game as you play it more.
One Finger Death Punch is a game that one must definitely play in order to understand and judge it. This is all about the feel, and there’s so much of it as you play it more and more. For a game that costs a single dollar, this is quite impressive and shows just what kind of games you can get from the indies.
As of posting this review, it’s now on Steam Greenlight as well, so go vote YES if you want to see it in the PC as well, and you should.
Tested in Xbox 360. Final Score: 9/10