When a whole hand is just excessive: One Finger Death Punch

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I’ve spent a lot of time on the train over the past few weeks. I recently picked up a copy of One Finger Death Punch. These two facts belong together, as I’ve been playing a lot of One Finger Death Punch. On trains. In hotel rooms. At home. In my mind. In my dreams.

This isn’t a review and it’s not clickbait so I’m not going to make you click through for the conclusion: One Finger Death Punch is easily my favourite game of 2014 so far. And unless something seriously comes out in the next three months it’s going to my my game of 2014.

In fact I’m not going to review it. For that read this article on PopMatters, it’s what sold me on the game in the first place.

After playing it for all of five minutes I took to Twitter to proclaim the game a “masterclass of kinaesthetics”. Hours – and thousands of corpses – later I stand by that description. I can’t bring to mind a single game that plays so smoothly and with such beguiling rhythm.

OFDP - Shaolin Tiger

It’s not flawless – occasionally a cinematic change of speed, a piece of slow motion or an unexpected weapon toss will break your flow or cause you to attack a split second early but 99.9% of the time if you miss it’s because you are weak.

There’s enough variety in the levels to keep it interesting – no mean feat for a game featuring two buttons – and the difficulty ramps up almost flawlessly. The change is so subtle that it’s easy to think you aren’t really developing, but then you go back and replay the early levels to pick up the medals and achievements and you realise how much easier they are. And this keeps on and on throughout the game. Yes, the levels do get larger and it isn’t long before you’re grinding through mobs of over a hundred which can get exhausting – especially if you’re chasing those medals which mean every miss is a punishment and often a trip to the restart button. But then you reach a light sword or a nunchaku round which is as close to catharsis as a game has ever taken me. No coloured enemies. No power-ups. No weapons. No brawlers. Just quick and simple one-touch death that culminates in a mini-boss fight; by the time you reach him you’re so amped up the intricate left-right patterns pose little challenge and the fight ends in a feeling of such mastery it can be hard not to cackle at the screen.

The music also deserves a mention. Unfortunately there’s no soundtrack album available but we won’t let a little detail like that get in the way. Some of the tracks are taken from F-777’s Chinese Dance Machine which is worth a listen purely on its own merits:

I don’t score games, but let’s just leave it at this:

OFDP - Bow

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