A long, long time ago, a platform called Xbox Live Arcade existed and opened up the mass market to indies, and this was arguably responsible for ushering in a golden age for smaller developers that digital distributors such as Steam quickly capitalized on. Many memorable games came out during that time, including a stick figure fighting game called One Finger Death Punch that tasked you with using two buttons corresponding to your character’s left and right sides to attack waves of stick figure enemies. This game’s underlying simplicity belied a surprising amount of complexity that allowed it to be an incredibly engaging experience, earning it the adoration of many (as evidenced by One Finger Death Punch having a 10/10 user score on Steam). Flash forward to today, April 15th, 2019, and its sequel, One Finger Death Punch 2, has finally released. I enjoyed the original game greatly, but its sequel surpasses it in almost every way; whereas the original game was a highly enjoyable distraction, One Finger Death Punch 2 quickly becomes an addiction that you can lose huge chunks of time to without noticing. This is simply a bigger, more complex game sporting more moving parts, and while its changes take a little getting used to at first, it’s such an improvement that the original pales in comparison.
[If you’re sensitive to flashing lights, it’s probably best to play it safe and not click on any of the videos below. There’s a lot of flashing in this game.]
One Finger Death Punch 2 is focused 100% on its memorable gameplay
There’s no story to be found here, and One Finger Death Punch 2 outright tells you this (it’s also written on its store page). That’s not to say that there’s nothing to discover, because there are some videos you can unlock by beating the single-player campaign content, but the focus here is entirely on the gameplay. Said gameplay is incredibly solid as a result; you quickly learn the game’s many rules, including the effects of the many equippable weapons that drop and which projectiles have which effect when interacted with, and over time, go from fumbling around in the dark to carving through waves of enemies without worry. Muscle memory quickly takes over to the point where you’re hitting the left/right attack buttons without even thinking about it, and enemies spawn in certain kinds of patterns that oftentimes allow you to intuit what’s coming next.
At its core, you’re really just waiting for enemies on your left and right to enter your attack range, but attacks also cause you to zip toward them, changing everyone’s relative distance in the process. Things get more complex when differently-colored enemies arrive who have specific dodge patterns. Then there are brawler enemies and bosses, who begin a 2-button QTE sequence mid-fight that you have to keep up with. Further complications arise when you factor in projectiles, which come in different colors: some can be blocked, some can be deflected (which turns them against enemies in front of you), and others can be dodged so that they hit enemies behind you. Having an enemy be unexpectedly defeated by a projectile can result in absentmindedly attacking a now-empty space, and misses are punished by staggering your character for a brief moment. It’s not guaranteed that you’ll take damage as a result, but that’s a very likely outcome.
Misses also factor into your score during the series of levels that make up the bulk of the single-player experience, with 4 misses or fewer resulting in a 5-star ranking. That’s not always an easy feat—various weapons and powerups can result in multi-hit enemies unexpectedly requiring only one hit, while some powerups draw enemies toward you while automatically dispatching them, ensuring that the enemy situation looks entirely different when it wears off. There’s a lot of complexity here, and trying to wrangle your rogue instincts can be enjoyably difficult.
Gimmick stages are high points and low points, depending on the gimmick
Not all of One Finger Death Punch 2‘s levels are created equal, of course. Many levels rely on one of several gimmick modes, and I’d wager that most people have at least one of these that they can’t stand. I’m a big fan of the power weapon stages that give you a power sword (a non-copyright infringing lightsaber, basically) or chainsaw that doesn’t wear out like the normal ones, leaving you to carve through every enemy in a single hit. These stages typically balance out your sudden empowerment by increasing the density and speed of enemies, and it’s a lot of fun. On the other side of things, there are “blade storm” levels that send a bunch of same-y projectiles at you. These are my kryptonite; while most projectiles can be blocked, some are dodged or reflected, and it becomes incredibly easy to miss after having an entire side of the screen unexpectedly cleared out. One Finger Death Punch 2 somehow keeps even these moments of total frustration entertaining, though.
That’s just the beginning of the level gimmicks, too. Some stages revolve around knocking enemies into traps that pop up around you, while others force you to defeat enemies with bows and guns and use those weapons to defeat specific “targeted” enemies to finish. Other levels will kill you if you miss a single time, or if you leave a tiny area. There are also “Wing Chun” levels that reduce your attack range to a sliver, forcing you to play as a stickman version of Ip Man and engage enemies mere moments before they attack you.
That’s still only scratching the surface. There are levels that make you invisible, hide your attack range, force you to beat the same small group of enemies multiple times (with everything moving faster each time), and all sorts of other craziness. Even when you feel totally out of your element, however, the odds never seem unfairly stacked against you, especially since many levels reward you with either skill points or revenge tokens. Skill points are used to increase the likelihood of skills triggering, and finishing all of the levels allows you to max out 100% of your skills (at the same time) to the point where you’re constantly creating shockwaves and shooting lasers and getting thrown into minigames that allow you to restore some health. Revenge tokens, meanwhile, can be used after losing a level to increase your attack range and give you health regeneration. Using these tools, building up muscle memory and earning 5 stars on every stage isn’t as impossible a task as it first seems. Granted, skill points and revenge tokens aren’t going to make it possible to finish all of One Finger Death Punch 2‘s levels if you don’t have at least some ability at reflex-based games, but they definitely help ease you in.
The various survival modes keep you hooked after finishing all of the levels
Once you’ve obtained 5 stars on all of the levels and maxed all of your skills out, you’re still not necessarily done. In addition to there being over 700 achievements (which trigger constantly at first, but eventually slow down), there are numerous different survival modes with leaderboards that you can try to get a high score on. These survival modes all appear to function the same way, with you starting at tier 1 and working your way up by amassing thousands of kills. You can start from the highest tier you’ve reached, with the maximum being 10, and each higher tier provides a more generous multiplier, meaning you’re not going to get a high score in a survival mode until you can start playing from tier 10. Regardless, it’s a ton of fun carving through an endless number of enemies and trying to top the score of some random stranger on the leaderboard, and there are enough different survival modes that you’re all but guaranteed to find something that revolves around the way you like to play.
There are only 2 things I don’t like about One Finger Death Punch 2
My first complaint is that some projectiles (shurikens in particular) have a habit of eating your inputs when the enemy speed is cranked way up. That’s not a problem for most of the game, but it can become a problem toward the end of a 20-50 minute survival mode run, and it always hurts to take a ton of damage because your input was eaten, throwing off your entire rhythm. The other problem I have pertains to the visuals, or more specifically, a single powerup effect that results in an enemy being thrown back and electrocuted with lightning. This effect plays out as a full-screen flash, and it’s incredibly unpleasant. I don’t understand why there isn’t an option to turn this off. After all, One Finger Death Punch 2 has a bunch of options for disabling everything from button-mashing QTEs to screen shake. Back on the topic of things that I like, however, the soundtrack is incredibly varied and memorable. Sometimes you get hit with normal-sounding music, while other times you find yourself listening to a licensed rap song. It’s not especially cohesive, but all of it is memorable enough that I could recall it even after a week or two of not playing.
Story: N/A Gameplay: 6/6 Visuals: 1/2 Music: 2/2 ★★★★★★★★★☆ – 9/10
*Click here and scroll to the bottom for a detailed explanation of what these numbers mean
One Finger Death Punch 2 Review Screenshots
*A Steam key was provided for the purpose of this One Finger Death Punch 2 review
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