Review – One Finger Death Punch 2 (Xbox One)

Despite its name being a clear nod to the metal band whose punches use four more fingers, One Finger Death Punch 2 couldn’t have been more different from them. When I first watched the trailer for this game, I was wondering what the hell was happening onscreen. It looked like the most confusing mess in gaming history, yet I was captivated by how silly it looked (and also because of the kung fu). Now that I have finally played it for hours on end, I can definitely say that yes this is even sillier than expected and a much better game than I could have ever imagined.

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I think this would have triggered Nintendo in the 90’s.

One Finger Death Punch 2‘s camera perspective and emphasis on high-octane kung fu action may suggest that this is a fighting game, but I’d actually say this is closer to a hybird between a puzzler and a rhythm game than a full-on brawler. The game loves to remind you whenever possible that this is NOT a button masher. This is a game about beating down gigantic hordes of enemies with as few attacks as possible, usually one or two well-timed punches at most.

You don’t even need to run towards your opponents. All you’ll use in One Finger Death Punch 2 is the X and B buttons in order to attack foes on the left and right, respectively. Whenever they reach close enough for the game to flash a blue or red signal onscreen, press the respective button and you’ll perform some ridiculous flashy kung fu move in order to kill a baddie. The game’s focus on timing, precision, and rhythm, as well as its focus on being flashy while doing your stunts, reminded me a bit of Superhot as well.

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You can also use weapons, as if your fists weren’t overpowered enough already.

This would have been a stupidly easy game if all I had to care about was to punch a foe and automatically kill him after one hit. One Finger Death Punch 2 throws tons of different enemies at you, each one with a different strategy. Some of them will require two hits, which more or less make the game’s title redundant, but hey, I ain’t complaining. Other enemies will avoid your first attack, forcing you to immediately counter attack on the opposite direction. Other enemies will throw weapons at you, forcing you to either dodge them or punch them. Finally, some bandana-wearing foes will trigger a Guitar Hero-esque sequence in which you’ll need to press the correct buttons at the correct time in order to kill them. Now imagine having to remember every single separate strategy with only a microsecond of thinking time in between fights. That’s how chaotic this game is, and I love it for that.

I also love how deceiving it is. The first dozen levels are here just to give you a false sense of tranquility, as you won’t require a lot of effort in order to five-star them without even getting hit once. Things will become completely nonsensical after a while and that’s when One Finger Death Punch 2 becomes insane. I can’t even blame you for failing once or twice per level afterwards, as the sheer amount of enemies onscreen turns the game into a complete visual mess.

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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Stickman.

One Finger Death Punch 2 is almost perfect when it comes to its core concept and controls, but the same cannot be said about its presentation. The best way I can describe it is that it’s cheap, and I can’t tell if some of its poor design decisions were intentional or not.

Graphics-wise, the game features a “stick man” art style, with characters looking like figures from pedestrian signs. You can actually “customize” your main character, giving him a skin tone and a colorful shirt, but it still looks like the most basic character design possible. I’m not going to lie, watching your character execute enemies with finishing movies ripped straight out of Mortal Kombat is hilarious, though. The game’s menus and UI on the other hand, are just downright embarrassing. They feel like menus from poorly-made Chinese knockoffs you can find in the Google Play Store.

I have my gripes regarding the game’s sound design as well, even though it is pretty good. At least for the most part. The soundtrack is upbeat, full of high-octane songs that fit perfectly with the game’s over-the-top nature, not unlike Mortal Kombat. However, its “voice acting” is one of the worst I’ve heard in a long time. There’s one poorly mixed voice that constantly interrupts you whenever there’s something new being thrown at you (which is pretty frequent at first). He also spits out some dumb one-liners whenever you beat a level. He always talks in a terrible “old Asian man” accent that treads the line between stupid and borderline racist.

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This green guy will only die after being hit TWICE. This dude is in a whole new level of endurance.

One Finger Death Punch 2 is the kind of game I love. It’s easy to learn, but very hard to master. It is jam packed with levels and overall content. It features a challenging but fair difficulty curve. Furthermore, it’s absolutely idiotic, over-the-top, and completely self-aware, and I love it for that. This is perfect game for you to play in small sessions, as you will always have a new level to tackle, meaning that it’s a perfect fit for a system like the Switch. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth picking up on the Xbox One, as I’d honestly recommend this to anyone who wants some light-hearted, but ultra-violent arcade fun.

 

Graphics: 5.5

It looks intentionally cheap, as if it was a browser game from Newgrounds. The nonsensical visual spectacle that constantly happens onscreen tries to mitigate this issue. The menu interfaces are inexcusably hideous, though.

Gameplay: 9.0

The game basically uses two buttons, and yet it manages to craft an “easy to learn, very hard to master” concept out of it. It’s extremely responsive, but the sheer amount of chaos happening onscreen will make you fail occasionally.

Sound: 8.0

A vast collection of high-octane songs that fit perfectly with the game’s over-the-top nature, but the voice acting included in here is too cheesy (and a bit racist) for me to properly appreciate.

Fun Factor: 10

This game has such an easy premise that will quickly win you over. The combination of simple controls, tons of levels, ultra-violent visual effects, and a fair difficulty curve are more than enough for me to consider it a must-have.

Final Verdict: 8.5

One Finger Death Punch 2 is available now on Xbox One, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Xbox One.

A copy of One Finger Death Punch 2 was provided by the publisher.

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