A tight game with a fun core mechanic and some variations that nonetheless gets old quick and suffers from some low production values.  It'll make some gamers very happy, especially played with a replica classic NES or SNES controller for an arcade feel, but it will leave a lot more feeling it is lacking.
Review: One Finger Death Punch
Date published: Apr 20, 2014
2 / 3 stars

One Finger Death Punch is an arcade brawler developed and published by Silver Dollar Games.  They have a kind of sordid history of X-Box indie games of little value at best, so I approached this one with caution.  This seems to be a case of a developer that did its time in the salt mines to get a chance to produce the game they wanted to, as One Finger Death Punch has a certain air of a labour of love to it.  But all the rough edges and lack of production values that characterise their previous games are still present here.

The name of the game is an allusion of its control scheme, which is extremely simplistic.  You can literally play this game with one finger.  There is no movement, you either attack right or attack left, as enemies come in range, and the movement occurs when you do go to attack.  It's implemented very tightly and the controls are very responsive.  It's clear the developers realised how important controls are to a game that's based on such simple mechanics, and the controls are indeed tight, both mouse and controller.  I'd probably break my keyboard in two with all the masking if I tried the keyboard, so I left that one out.  But both controller and mouse worked well.

The interface is where the game does do itself wrong sometimes.  The game presents two prompts - one for each side - and sometimes they would light up before an enemy was truly in range.  That one pixel difference that would change between a hit or miss.  Not that big a thing for casual play, but for someone like me that wanted to get perfect on each level, very frustrating.

Several modes are offered to flesh out the gameplay, between time trials, boss battles, and different enemies that have different mechanics, but the game does seem to start running out of steam midway through.  It feels like the developers wanted to take that core idea as far as they could as they could and they certainly did, but they probably could have shaved a few levels off the game without any appreciable loss.

The art assets are an incredibly mixed bag.  The backgrounds are brilliantly painted but then you have very basic stick-man figures put atop them, and then you have executions that slow down and zoom in on the stick-men enemies as they die, just as if to nail home the strange level of pixellated juxtaposition.  It just creates an inconsistent art style that's very dissonant and feels ultimately very "cheap."

At the end of the day, this is a game that fans of old NES/Genesis/SNES type arcade games will probably enjoy, if for a bit, since the game does run out of toys for a while and becomes repetitive.  Those not enamoured by the simplicity of the mechanic will probably find the game lacking.