What I’m Playing This Week? Two Button Action in One Finger Death Punch

Welcome to the holidays! With less than two weeks left until Christmas, for most of us, you know what that means.

That’s right, you’re broke. Between holiday gifts, winter vacations and travel, seeing family, going to parties, events and all the other things around the end of the year, your wallet is more barren then the Great Salt Flats in the middle of July. So for the next few weeks, until the new years in fact, I will only be bringing games to you that are $10 or less. These are games, (mostly on Steam) offered at a deep discount, but you can get more than your share of playtime for your dollar’s worth. I will try to avoid games that are on sale, but if an irresistible one shows up, I will probably play it for a week or more.

So, what is my first under $10 game? This week I plopped down $5 on Silver Dollar Games’ One Finger Death Punch, simultaneously one of the most simple, and complex games you’ll ever play. I would compare One Finger Death Punch to One True Game Studios’ Divekick. If Divekick is the fighting game genre boiled down to its absolute essence, then One Finger Death Punch does the same for action games.

The “hook” behind One Finger Death Punch is that you only every use two buttons. Two buttons on your controller, or two keys on the keyboard, or the left and right click buttons on your mouse. Those are all the controls you need. The game plays like this: Enemies, objects, or objectives come at you from both sides of the screen. When they reach a certain distance from you, whom always stays in the center of the screen, you press either the button associated with left attack, or the one associated with right attack. There is a ‘range’ bar beneath you, if an enemy is within your range bar, you hit them, if there is not, you miss.

As one of the tag-lines in the game says, ‘If you button mash, you will lose.’ I can attest that this is entirely true. This simple two-button game hides a ballet of intense action, violence and concentration that had me playing way longer than I ever expected, because I was always looking for one more level, or I’m sure I could do a level just that little bit better. There are three types of enemies: one hit enemies that just fill your screen and let you smack them around, enemies of various colors that take multiple hits and often switch sides of your character as you go, and ‘brawlers’ enemies that when you engage them give you a scrolling series of attack prompts, rather like a rhythm game about smashing people’s face in. While engaged with a brawler, none of the enemies will interrupt your fight.

Oh, didn’t I mention the theme of the game? That is the best part, in my mind. One Finger Death Punch is an homage/parody to Hong Kong martial arts films, if all of the characters are stick figures. There is a cheesy 70s chop-suey announcer over every level, and every action and power up. The levels are a mix of standard Hong Kong movie fare, and they even visibly drop in stage props to smash enemies through, impale them on and otherwise just add a massive visually satisfying impact to every bad guy you drop, or every fight you win. The game modes vary as well, from massive brawls against hundreds of opponents, to games where you deflect every attack coming at you, to boss fights against opponents that flip back and forth across the scene and you follow them back and forth with your attacks.

I wish I could truly give this game the justice it deserves in words. This game is amazingly complex for just a two button interaction, and every single button click, every single attack, every time you finish a level or defeat a challenge is incredibly satisfying. There is an impact with each action that translates through when you send a stick figure flying through three others, or toss one onto a spear planted into the ground. There are levels where your character is wielding a light-sword against a legion of opponents with epic music playing and explosions and flames in the background, culminating with a one on one that has you biting your lip as you try to get through the entire thing without a single miss.

I cannot emphasize just how…psyched I get when I play this game. I’ve actually owned this game for months now, and every time I step back into it for just ‘one game’ an hour or more disappears. If you’re trying to save your money, and want a game that will get you over your holiday stress you really should pick up One Finger Death Punch.

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