Six years ago, One Finger Death Punch released on Xbox 360 via XNA to critical acclaim. Making a name for itself with stand-out, fast-paced but easy to learn combat, this stick figure brawler turns players into John Wick, Bruce Lee, and Jackie Chan all into one. This sequel takes fighting and gameplay to the next level with more intense combat, dozens of stages, and thousands of enemies to one-hit palm strike.
One Finger Death Punch 2 is actually a very simple game. Playing as a stick figure positioned in the middle of the screen, there are only two buttons to control all gameplay: to attack to the right hit “B” and to attack to the left tap “X.” This 2D brawler has enemies flooding from both sides of the screen and player needs to tap once in their incoming direction when they enter the kill zone to defeat them. Some enemies take multiple hits, some slide to the other side, some are ranged attackers. There are several enemies types and when mixed together from both sides, combat becomes rhythmic similar to Guitar Hero or Rock Band.
On paper, this gameplay sounds like it will become repetitive, and it does in time, but still remains satisfying despite having an entire game based around two buttons. There are moments of craziness, like riding a horse to charge through opponents, or snagging a sniper rifle to shoot through a line of enemies and throw the gun at the next one. These special abilities can be leveled up so there is a slight RPG mechanic here although it progresses rather slowly. Each stage is linked together by a massive overworld map but isn’t as fluid as it should be. Instead of just freely walking from one stage to the next, the player must push the analog stick in the direction of the next level, then tap a button to auto-walk to the next stage. This become tedious when you want to go back to level 3 when you are on level 8. It isn’t the end of the world, just isn’t the best progression system.
In addition to the standard campaign mode, there are a slew of optional mini games and gauntlet runs, including a two-player mode. Although each of these extra modes is built around a unique premise, the one that stands out the most is the cat mode. During normal gameplay, a massive non-animated cardboard cat will walk into the screen and just sit here, blocking the view, like a total a-hole. The only way to shoo the cat away is to flick the analog stick, which gets accompanied by a voice quip like “come on kitty, get out of the way.” This mode is super dumb but also super great, another reason why this game puts a focus on humor.
One Finger Death Punch 2 does a lot with only two buttons. By the time I pummeled my 5000th enemy, I knew things were getting repetitive but I didn’t care. There is something so satisfying about the combat that keeps you coming back for more – I think it is the way the gameplay slows down for a fraction of a second with each successful hit. Gameplay is basically a one trick pony but still offers fast-paced, humorous, and satisfying fluid combat that somehow becomes soothing even though you are brutally punching stick figures in the face.
Also available on PC and Nintendo Switch.
Also Try: any Guitar Hero title
Bigger Than: the original
Wait For It: a new Game & Watch collection