One Finger Death Punch Review
8.7our score

When I found out there was a game called One Finger Death Punch (OFDP), the first question I asked was not whether I wanted to review it. It was, how soon can I start playing it? And before I get into it, let me just say that my instincts were correct. Usually when I write reviews I try to give my readers some insight into a game so that they can make an informed decision about whether or not they should buy it. That’s not what I’m going to do here. You should buy this game and I’m going to tell you why.

One Finger Death Punch is a 2 button, rails, Kung-Fu brawler by Silver Dollar Games (SDG). SDG is responsible for a long list of projects including a number of web games, videos, and other oddities not suitable for the untainted youth. OFDP is their most legit game to date. Which is also why it’s their first one available on Steam and Desura. You should definitely buy this game, but since you’re already here you might as well read my review first.

12/13 stage types. I have not seen a 13th as of yet.

12/13 stage types. I have not seen a 13th as of yet.

GRAPHICS DJMMT - Graphics

If you like(d) Stick Death (Google it if you’re too young to know or too old to remember), then you will definitely like these graphics. I wouldn’t describe the graphics as Stick Death on crack, but I would say that it’s like Stick Death went to college and got real professional. The characters are very basic stick figures. Their movement is quite intricate, but all characters, playable and NPC, look exactly the same save for differences in color, which depends on the stage and the occasional crown for brawlers (a higher level enemy). The backgrounds are quite impressive and varied. They’re 2D but very detailed and set in a number of different locations such as temple ruins, mountains, an open field, and even a night time thunderstorm.

Something that’s really interesting about the backgrounds is that they are partially interactive with the gameplay. Objects in the background such as tables, boxes, and carts can be broken. This happens when you kill enemies in ways that result in their bodies being thrown into said background items. While you can’t do this intentionally, it does happen quite often. So much so in fact that there are special types of stages in the game known as Smash Rounds where your objective is to knock enemies into a certain number of background items. You can also kill enemies in ways where their corpses become part of the background. This is most common when you use daggers or arrows because you can actually pin enemies to walls if you hit them while they are standing in proximity to one of said walls. But this can also be done when you impale enemies with certain types of weapons such as spears.

Bodies interacting with the background.

Bodies interacting with the background.

In any fighting game, special attacks and kills are the bread and butter of showing off your graphics. It’s why Injustice has special attacks, Super Smash Bros. Brawl has final smashes, and why we all love Dragon Ball Z so much. For a 2D stick figure game, OFDP delivers the goods for fighting graphics.

The choreography is beautiful. While you might not notice it so much mid battle, there are 5 different martial arts styles in the game, which vary from stage to stage. If you pay attention, you actually do notice differences in the playable character’s fighting based on the style listed for each stage. There are a number of different special occurrences that add so much to the overall experience of a game that really only uses 2 buttons. There’s the Power Smash which causes your fists to light up blue like the kaioken attack (Google it you uncultured swine). There’s also Fury Mode where the enemies freeze and you get to move through them like the Flash but in slow motion. And finally there’s the slow motion special kill, which is by far my favorite. SDG had fun with this one. Sometimes when you kill an enemy the game slows down and gives you a close up of just how brutal of a death a stick figure can have. Sometimes it’s an eye flying at the screen. Sometimes it’s a guy’s head getting sliced in half or a number of other things. But it always looks awesome.

One of several possible special kills.

One of several possible special kills.

Graphics play a key role in determining what your objectives are and what type of stage you’re in, and thus they have to be very clear. From the text styles to the in-stage weather to the way weapons are rendered, OFDP looks simple and yet there are so many small details that factor into the way the game looks and feels. I, for one, think SDG did an amazing job of creating something that looks as simple as possible without leaving anything out. I wouldn’t have wanted to see heavy skinned character renders and overly detailed backgrounds that distract you from the fight at hand. Nothing superfluous and nothing missing – perfect for what the game intends to be. Remember that we are literally using 2 buttons to play the entire game so it’s not like we need it to look like The Last of Us.

GAMEPLAY DJMMT - Gameplay

The gameplay for One Finger Death Punch is definitely its strongest feature. The game only uses 2 buttons – the left mouse click and right mouse click or left and right arrows on the keyboard. And yet with these simple controls Silver Dollar Games has managed to create a game that is both challenging and varied from stage to stage. There are over 250 stages and 13 different stage types according to the game’s official website. I have not finished the map yet and only found 12 different modes so far. And while they all have the same controls and mechanics, each stage type yields a different experience.

Left Zone Blue. Right Zone Pink.

Left Zone Blue. Right Zone Pink.

The game’s controls are ingenious in the fact that you do not have the ability to move at your leisure. You are only able to attack enemies and interact with objects when they are within the zone of your character’s reach. Enemies are constantly running towards you and you attack them by clicking the button corresponding to the side they are on before they get too close to you. When timed correctly, attacks string into a beautiful display of fluid motion in the form of a bloody kung-fu battle. But when you click a button too late you take damage and when you click too early (without having any targets or objects within your zone) you stutter, leaving you open to take damage if an enemy is close enough to reach you before recovery. The best part about this is that it prevents you from button mashing.

The game forces you to be aware of every move you make and punishes you for just wildly flailing with no control or reason. When you attack an enemy you move in the direction of the enemy. This is how you move around the stages as well. If an object you want is to the left then you need to attack enemies on your left as soon as possible so that you move towards the object. At first this mechanic seems unimportant, but you find out quickly that this is not the case as items are a critical part of your survival in later levels. Sometimes getting to an item before engaging a certain enemy can be the difference between victory and defeat. 

It is important to note that the game’s experience is contingent on you having a good mouse, keyboard, or XBOX 360 gamepad. SDG claims to have a perfect 1:1 response system that shows no latency. With all fast games, it’s always hard to tell if it’s the game, the computer, or the user. I want to say that I have experienced the occasional lag with the response time, but it’s impossible to say for sure because overall the game’s responsiveness seems pretty good so maybe it’s just me.

In game warning against button mashing.

In game warning against button mashing.

Pro Tip: You absolutely need a good mouse (if you’re using a mouse) to play this game successfully. Built-in laptop mouse pads do not work. I tried 3 different mice before I found one that worked really well. I had the most luck with a stationary roller ball mouse, but others may have better luck with other types. I prefer the keyboard and I haven’t tried a gamepad.

I know at face it sounds like a pretty simple and repetitive game with just 2 buttons, but that is not the case. Not only do you have 13 different modes, some of which have very different objectives such as the Smash Round and Defender Round, but there are also a number of weapons you can pick up within the game. This includes physical weapons such as swords, spears, and clubs as well as projectiles such as arrows, daggers, and bombs, and depending on your unlocked skills you can even throw physical weapons sometimes. There are 21 different unlockable skills which can be used 3 at a time except for in certain special stages such as boss rounds.

Unlockable skills.

Unlockable skills.

Yes, there are boss fights. There are actually a number of different types of enemies, varying in difficulty and frequency. Grey enemies are the basic type and they require 1 hit. Green enemies require 2 hits. There are mid level enemies that require more than 2 hits, some of which can even change which side of the zone (which button is needed) multiple times before dying. There are also higher level enemies called brawlers which you need to fight within the “Combat Zone” in order to defeat them. The combat zone requires you to press a sequence of commands which appear on the screen within a certain amount of time. If buttons are pressed too slowly or in the wrong order you take damage.

All non-boss enemies can be killed in one hit when attacked with projectiles and often choosing to use projectiles on certain enemies will be an important part of your strategy. Projectiles can only be acquired by stealing them from enemies that are carrying them. Projectile attacks will not yield weapons pick-ups. And finally there are bosses. Boss fights consist of one enemy that constantly changes styles, requiring different sequences of hits until you finally bring it down. All boss fights are contained in their own stages, while mini-bosses appear at the end of certain rounds.

Boss Round

Boss Round.

Most levels are won when a certain numbered objectives are completed like killing a specific number of enemies (Mob Round), deflecting a certain number of attacks (Defender Round), or breaking a certain number of objects (Smash Round) before you take a certain number of hits. This is usually 10, but as you progress through the game this number can range to as low as one. There are also modes where you have an unlimited amount of health such as Speed Rounds, and you have to kill a certain number of enemies within a given amount of time.

Life Bar

Health Bar. Shows number of remaining hits before death/loss of current round.

The controls may be simple, but the game is not. It’s quite challenging as the speed and number of enemies increases while the amount of health or time you’re given decreases as you travel across the map. It may not sound like it, but strategy is an important factor in the game, which in many ways trumps reaction time. As you progress through the game, you will see a noticeable increase in your skills, specifically in your reaction speed and your eye’s perception of the situation. Similar to when playing Tetris, enemies will appear to move very fast at first but, with practice, will slow down. But just like in Tetris, these skills of perception and reaction will have to be reacquired if you don’t play for an extended amount of time.

But no matter how fast you get, you will eventually need to employ strategy to succeed in the later levels. The order you choose to kill enemies will become just as important as your reaction speed due to a number of factors shaped by your own strengths and weaknesses. Along with this, there are also unlockable skills. Certain skills become available after you beat their corresponding stage. There are a total of 21 skills, which can be used 3 at a time. The skills are varied in use and usefulness. Some are offensive and some are defensive, while some are not very useful at all. There are thousands of combinations to try and each player will find a combination that works perfectly for them. Some stages don’t allow you to use skills such as Speed Rounds.

The controls may be simple, but the game is not.

While the tutorial is very easy and the gameplay sounds very straight forward there are a number of surprises that differ from round to round. Sometimes you get the opportunity to do special kills which can be based on performance or induced through unlocked skills. And sometimes your rhythm can be thrown off by a surprise such as a weapon being thrown at you by an enemy while engaging with other enemies.

The background logistics of the game are very good. The display is simple, but more importantly out of the way and not actually requiring your attention. You can see your speed, fight feed, life bar, and high score at all times during a stage, but can play any stage without looking at anything except the combat area and health bar because of where everything is placed. The map system is very easy, but not predetermined. You have the ability to make choices in which direction to go and which stages to complete. While you should take the time to complete all the stages, you are not required to in order to reach the end of the map. All progress is autosaved and your mastery record is updated at the end of each match.

Speed (Top Left), Fight Feed (Bottom Left), Health (Bottom Middle), High Score (Bottom Right), Zone (Middle)

Speed (Top Left), Fight Feed (Bottom Left), Health (Bottom Middle), High Score (Bottom Right), Zone (Middle), Target Number (Top Middle).

While I do believe that this game is pretty damn good, there are just a few flaws that are important to address. The game progresses in difficulty very quickly in a way that, while possible, makes too big a leap too fast. In a game that has more than 250 stages, there is no reason that the first stage which has only 15 enemies, albeit 4 times over, should be directly followed by a stage with 50 enemies. And the 5th stage in the game is a special challenge stage which is actually much more difficult than any of the previous 4 stages and a number of stages afterward.

The progression from rookie to veteran should have been done more slowly. I was also very unhappy with the fact that you can’t zoom out far enough to see the whole map or at least all the levels you’ve completed. It gets very annoying trying to orient your location when you have to move around just a couple levels at a time. This is especially a problem later on in the game when you try to retrace your path back to a fork in order to play levels you skipped over. While it doesn’t really affect gameplay, you cannot choose which of the 5 styles of kung-fu you use in each level. The game chooses for you and while the controls are unaffected, you do notice a difference in the fighting choreography and you will develop a preference.

Largest view of part of the map.

Largest view of part of the map.

I have tried my best to sum up the important details of the gameplay, but there is so much more I can say. Even with the few flaws, the experience of playing One Finger Death Punch is indescribably entertaining and addictive. If you can get through the first 7 stages (past the first boss), then I can almost guarantee that you won’t be able to stop playing until you’ve reached the end of the map.

SOUND DJMMT - Sound

The sound is probably the only part of this game that I had any issue with, and honestly it’s not really a problem. The sound effects are great. It’s all timed perfectly to what occurs in the game. I noticed no delays or issues with sound alignment or clarity. You can hear each attack, broken window, special kill, and impalement just fine. The narrator, which my girlfriend (who is Chinese) described as a Mexican guy pretending to be Asian, can be heard clearly. And while he can get repetitive at times, he basically always says something useful albeit Mr. Miyagiesque when you happen to die (and you will).

My only real issue with the sound is that while it’s crisp and clear, it’s not powerful. Often when I play PC games, whether they be indie or AAA, the sound is so powerful that I can’t run it on full volume without hurting my ears. That’s not the case with this game. Now, when playing with headphones this is a moot point. You definitely don’t feel like it’s lacking then, but when I play it with speakers it just feels weaker than a game of this style should be. It lacks intensity.

The music, which you most likely won’t even notice until you’ve advanced well into the game and can play without feeling totally stressed from the thought of killing 50 opponents with only 10 hits (first level after tutorial, but it gets way worse), is stereotypically appropriate. It’s very similar to what we’ve come to expect from a Chinese martial arts film. As in, even though there’s tons of violence, gallons of blood, and lots of Bruce Lee yells, it’s very light and relaxing as if you’re in a park or sitting by a waterfall. There’s also some special occurrence sound effects such as when you get down to your last hit. When this happens, you get a special Dragon Ball Z style power up theme as a special assist weapon descends from the clouds in hopes of giving you that last little push to win the level.

Pro Tip: If you need that special assist you probably aren’t gonna make it. But without a doubt my favorite sound effect in the game is the special slow motion kill. It’s exactly how you think it is and that’s exactly how it should be. All in all, the sound for this game is quite good and even without the expected force behind it, I still have to rate it very highly.

Golden sword appears when you have 1 hit left.

Golden sword appears when you have 1 hit left.

WRITING DJMMT - Pencil

While this game has no plot to speak of, writing is definitely a noticeable factor in it, but not in the way you might expect. First off there’s the narrator. His entire job is to advise you throughout the game as if you’re the student and he’s the master. He tells you exactly what you need to know when you need to know it, in usually clear and concise directions, most of which are automatically summarized in text which is also clear and concise most of the time. The only time the narrator gets on my nerves is when you die because he always says the same thing, which no matter how appropriate is still annoying. In true Chinese master style, death/failure always results in the words: “Your enemy is strong. Take your time and focus.” It definitely gets old hearing that, but it never becomes irrelevant.

Post stage award screen.

Post stage award screen.

The second, much less noticeable, but very entertaining aspect of writing in the game is the post match Pro Tips. They’re hilarious because very few of them are actually tips on how to improve your in game performance. Some of them are little tidbits about the game such as the fact that it claims to be the first on rails fighter. But some of them have absolutely nothing to do with anything such as “Tell us how much you love indie games.” But this is intentional. It goes very much with the overall style of SDG and thus seems appropriate when playing OFDP. The writing, while sparse and not at all plot inclusive, isn’t irrelevant. And though plot definitely could have played a role in this game, I don’t necessarily feel that the lack of plot detracts from the experience in the way it does for many other games in the brawler genre.

Pro Tips appear in the medal screen when you complete a match.

Pro Tips appear in the medal screen when you complete a match.

REPLAY VALUE DJMMT - Replay Value

Well first of all the game is really, really long. There are more than 250 different stages with 3 separate difficulty levels. That means that without even counting the Survival Mode, which also has 3 different difficulty levels including “Blind Mode,” you have more than 750 different levels to play before you can even say that you’ve completed the game. Then there’s the fact that you can unlock 21 different skills that can be used in combination with each other 3 at a time. This means that there are literally thousands of different ways to approach each of the more than 750 levels.

At 6 hours of play I hadn’t even completed 100 stages yet. And don’t forget the whole get a platinum medal (0 mistakes) in every level thing if you’re hardcore. Plus there are a whopping 152 achievements. And if somehow you really do finish all this, there’s still the online high score rankings if you really feel like you need something else to do. I like to say that, at minimum, a game should give you at least an hour of playtime for every dollar you spent on it. Many games don’t live up to this standard with replay time included and even fewer today meet this expectation in a first play through. Based on this standard, OFDP more than covers the $5 price tag. In fact, I’ll even go as far as to say that $5 is too little to pay for this game and if you’ve read my past posts you know that I rarely, if ever, make a statement like that. The game’s got enough replay value to cover several other games. And even if you just play through it once, you’ll still have gotten way more than a dollar an hour for the current price tag.

High Score page reflects Survival Mode results.

High Score page reflects Survival Mode results.

CONCLUSION DJMMT - Conclusion

In conclusion, BUY THIS GAME! It’s only $5. It’s gonna last you no less than 10, dare I say it, 20 hours if you try to complete all the stages on all 3 difficulty levels plus the 3 different survival modes. It’s highly addictive, and it’s the simplest gameplay in the world to pick up while still being difficult to master. The system requirements are lower than anything currently available on the market (it runs on Windows XP) and it even supports an XBOX 360 controller if you don’t have a good quality mouse or working keyboard.

In conclusion, BUY THIS GAME!

There are games that are no. There are games that are hit or miss. And there are games that you must have and this is one of those games. And to top it all off, even my casual gamer girlfriend was addicted to it after about 5 minutes. So really the biggest flaw with this is that if you have a girlfriend, younger siblings, or roommates and you happen to let them try it, you may not be able to use your computer for a couple hours after doing so. Like this post, leave a comment, then go to Steam or Desura and invest, not spend, but invest $5 for one of the most entertaining indie games I have ever played. Then come back here and leave another comment telling me I was totally right.

Dev Logo

Pros:

  • Easy Controls
  • Low Price
  • Low System Requirements
  • Hours and Hours of Gameplay
  • Highly Addictive
Cons:

  • Doesn’t respond well with a built in laptop mouse
  • Asks a lot of the user very quickly
  • Less than powerful sound
  • Highly addictive to girlfriends

 DJMMT - GF Stamp of Approval

System Requirements

Minimum:
OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8
Processor: 2.0 GHz+ Dual Core Processor or higher
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Graphics: 512 MB VRAM with Shader Model 3.0 support and needs a directX 10 capable video card.
DirectX: Version 9.0c
Hard Drive: 200 MB available space
Additional Notes: This game requires Microsoft XNA Framework Redistributable 4.0 and Microsoft NET Framework 4.0. If you need, you can download from http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=20914 and http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=17851

Recommended:
OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8
Processor: 2.0 GHz+ Dual Core Processor or higher
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Graphics: 512 MB VRAM with Shader Model 3.0 support and needs a directX 10 capable video card.
DirectX: Version 9.0c
Hard Drive: 200 MB available space
Additional Notes: Xbox 360 controller officially supported

the author

Writer at ManaPool. By day, DJMMT is a struggling college alum surviving by making pizza in Wisconsin and looking for better work. By night, he's a top shelf gamer. His favorite genres are platformers and real time action RPGs. Want to have a long discussion about any topic in gaming? Me too. Send me a message and let's talk.