Posted: October 21, 2014
I would not have discovered this game if I hadn't watched jacksepticeye play it on Youtube, and as soon as I saw gameplay of it, and saw that it was only $5, I knew I had to get it, and 90 hours of playtime later, I can safely say that it's perhaps the best five dollars I've ever spent.
One of my favorite types of games are games that are simple to learn, difficult to master, and rank you on how well you did. One Finger Death Punch, Flappy Bird, Spin Copters, Electronic Super Joy, all of them very simple (and cheap) games that I've put more hours in than I've put into any other type of game. But like every game, even one as good as I think One Finger Death Punch is, there were some hiccups.
What I liked about the game:
- Flexible difficulty: 1FDP is the only game I've come across so far that has such a flawless, seamless method of adjusting its difficulty level to player skill. If you were able to clear a level with little effort, it upped the speed a tad. If you did alright, it kept you as is. If you lost, or just -barely- beat it, it stepped you down a tad. There's still that "Easy > Normal > Hard" mechanic in the form of the Student, Master, and Grandmaster difficulties, which don't take you under a certain speed, but the flexibility remains, and it is pretty much perfect.
- Shadow enemies: If an enemy design in a game as simple as 1FDP can make you -nervous- when you encounter it, that is excellent design, and the "shadow enemies" encountered in the later stages of Master, and nearly all the stages of Grandmaster are exactly that. Most enemies have an indicator below them that shows what order you need to click them in order to defeat them, and a color that corresponds to this order. Shadow enemies have neither, and because of this, it's nerve-wracking whenever you encounter them, because you don't know how many hits it'll take to defeat them, or whether or not they'll change sides. That sense of uncertainty adds a greater depth of challenge to an already very challenging game.
- Atmosphere: It's a two-dimensional, two-button beat-em-up. The main character is a plain white, indescript stickman. The only variety between enemies is color, and sometimes a hat. And still, the game manages to make you feel like you're Bruce Lee, with an amazing soundtrack in the background, and an endless array of lightspeed punches kicks, blood, sound effects, bodies flying into the air, stuff breaking, exploding, collapsing, etc. And when it's all over, you can't help but take a deep breath at how epic it was, especially when you just got a perfect round.
- Forking Progression: Progression in 1FDP is not linear in the sense that there is only one clearly-placed way to go, and if you're having trouble on a level, you just have to keep attacking it over and over and over until you finally win. 1FDP's, levels fork off into various paths in the middle, such that at any given time, you could have up to five or six levels available at one time to play. The forks taper back into a linear progression near the end, which I feel is appropriate, but the multitudes of forking paths in the middle was stunningly impressive to me.
Now, for what I didn't like:
- The Tutorial Levels: 1FDP is an incredibly simple game. It's so simple that the first six or so levels that -constantly- stop the gameplay in order to beat incredibly obvious mechanics into your skull, are completely redundant and unnecessary. From the first second of the first level, just by -glancing- at my character, and the oncoming enemy, I knew exactly what I had to do, which made it very annoying to me when everything kept pausing in order to waste time explaining it. Oh, the enemy with TWO bars underneath him takes TWO hits to defeat? You don't say! It irks me when games treat their players like they're idiots, especially games as simple as this one.
- Wasted Design Opportunities: I feel like SDG dropped the ball in a few places in terms of designing mechanics, particularly, weapon design. There are two categories of weapon: melee and ranged, and three types of weapons for each category, sword, staff, and club for melee, arrow, dagger, and bomb for ranged. And other than the melee throw special, which, unless you take the Throw Weapon skill, you'll only see about 20% of the time, -all- the weapons in either given category do the -exact- same thing. Every ranged weapon gives you a one-hit kill. Every melee weapon extends your hit range. I feel like SDG could have done more with the weapons without compromising the simplicity of the game. Have staff weapons increase the range, have swords do two points of damage per hit, have clubs knock enemies back into the enemy behind them when they kill them, stalling that side of the screen for a moment. And something similar for the ranged weapons. As it is, it's not bad at all, but I just feel like it could have been -better-.
This extends to the types of available levels as well. There's literally no difference between Light Sword rounds and Nunchaku Rounds besides color scheme and the obvious use of different weapons. And while those levels are -awesome-, they could have been done better, differently, to add a touch more variety.
Overall, despite the annoying, needless idiot test at the very beginning of the game, and the wasted design opportunities, this is an absolutely amazing game for its price, and I'd give it an easy 9.7/10. Get it. You won't regret it.