“Man, I keep that heat up off for who got beef with me.”
This is an odd redemption story, to say the least. Cut to a decade back, and Silver Dollar Games was synonymous with some of the worst meme titles in the now-defunct Xbox Live Indie Games storefront. No Luca No is the one most people remember, mostly due to Rooster Teeth’s Michael Jones making it a part of his now-infamous Rage Quit series. It’s a funny video, one that is introductory to both Michael’s previous antics and Silver Dollar’s reputation. All of this changed, however, with One Finger Death Punch.
A game that reaches sheer perfection due to the incredible simplicity behind it all, OFDP saw acclaim from various critics who previously sneered at the possibility that Silver Dollar may have had a shred of integrity when it came to their development cycles. Nevertheless, the minds behind one of 2014’s most surprising GOTY contenders have laid dormant for a while, and it’s only now that they have returned to the fray with a sequel to said contender. This is One Finger Death Punch 2.
You play as a person! This person? They’re unstoppable, a true force of nature that cannot be toppled, even by the IRS. However, some people tend to disagree with this and are willing not to take you down with quality but with quantity. Forget the hordes of Hell. You’ve got a bunch of pissed-off karate champs with all types of weapons looking to hunt you down and turn the next few hours into a Jackie Chan feature.
If you’ve yet to play or see what One Finger Death Punch is about, then allow me to explain. You’re on a 2D plane, and enemies are going to come swarming at you from both the left and right sides of the screen. Almost all of the enemies are stopped in their tracks with one single button press however, and it’s a case of rhythm-action that gets you through most of it. The enemies will spawn in with no distinct pattern half of the time, but by the end of it, you will be in sync with the beat of the game.
Beyond that, OFDP2 attempts to throw you off with random enemy variants. Aside from enemies which may take more than one button tap to take down, you also have Brawlers, which has you completing a complex button-pressing sequence (usually more than 4 taps) in order to take them down. Another variant is enemies that can switch which side of the screen they’re on with each button press, and finally, Bosses, which are a mix of all the aforementioned variants.
Aside from them, there’s the possibility you’ll have to dodge projectiles thrown by enemies off-screen, a more ingrained QTE sequence with enemies who you have to wait for in order to attack, bonus roads involving riding on horseback or throwing infinite kunai knives. Oh! There are also different types of ways you can counter the projectiles, like catching, deflecting, or dodging them.
Despite being stupidly simple in terms of its core gameplay, there’s a lot to unpack in how the game throws curveballs. It’s staggeringly marvelous to see, and also a bit ham-fisted in its execution. All of these nuances are admirable and downright fun to watch unfurl in a glorious orgy of simply animated and violent fashion, but you are never ever going to see it within the middle.
The biggest annoyance comes from how you can expand your already lethal inventory of weaponry and counter moves. Certain Mob Round completions can reward you with skill points that go towards randomizing the gameplay, for the most part. There are increases to both health and range available also, but these are hidden right at the bottom of this honestly monolithic list, and before that? Mostly menial stuff.
Minigames that allow you to recover a single point of health, being able to one-hit bosses, brawlers or multiple-hit enemies– All of these are available with the upgrade system, but all of these power-ups are down to chance rather than activation, which is the better route for it. You don’t wanna spend time faffing about with an extra button press while everybody is rushing you, but at the same time, it seems like a pointless endeavor considering how brief, fleeting, and incredibly easy this entire ordeal is.
You start off with ten hit points in mob levels, and five in multi-round match-ups, with you getting a free hit point given back if you take a hit in-between rounds. If you’re slow, then yeah, obviously you’re going to take hits more often, and eventually you’ll die, but if you die, then it reduces the game speed by .2 of the current multiplier and places you back into the round. There’s no real punishment for messing up in the campaign, and that’s mainly where it fails; that, and its unbelievably long length.
OFDP2 suffers from having so many goddamn levels, and it suffers further when you realize just how bloody pointless such a long length in this game is. You’ve got over 150 levels, situated over 8 worlds and way too little variety to justify it all. Silver Dollar attempted to defend this by saying that you should play in bursts, but that simply implies a free-to-play environment where instead of a pay wall emerging, it’s your patience and slowly degrading level of enjoyment.
Does OFDP2 get better in bursts? No, not really. The rhythm and design the gameplay puts you through is unique, and it’s not something you can simply switch on and off due to the random nature of the games mechanics and skills cropping up whenever they feel like it. It seeks to impress and be the belle of the ball with all of these admittedly brilliant animations and silly scenarios, but its uniqueness, flair, and charms wears down after the second world.
That being said, both OFDP2 and the original’s claim to fame of boosting reactionary skills for the player has been marred by being placed on a console with no actual first-party, wired controllers. A wireless controller has inevitable input delay as your button presses and movements are delayed by a fraction of a second and what have you, and believe it or not, those fractions can cost you big time when you get deeper into a fast-moving section.
That isn’t a complaint that can be attached to the game like usual– this is just the eighth generation’s reluctance to actually provide a decent wired controller getting in the way of things again. Regardless, it is something that can hamper the experience if you’re someone who’s going to be playing it on console.
Beyond that, there’s a fair amount of random minigames beyond the campaign which are interesting, to say the least. Although, there’s only one mode that truly transcends beyond the trope of “generic side-modes”, and that’s the tribute to No Luca No. It’s still the same old endless waves of X and B button mashing, but that mischievous cat from Silver Dollar’s previous antics has returned to clutter up the screen and block the action. It’s just enough of an alteration in standard gameplay to be a wonderful new challenge, alongside it being a faithful shout-out to what Silver Dollar used to be.
This is a weird thing to consider. By all definitions of the term, One Finger Death Punch 2 is still a basic experience, and it’s said basic-ness that elevates it to a moniker like “good”, maybe even “great”. However, some of these bells and whistles, the faffing with bonus mini-games that get in the way, the simplicity being stretched thinner than necessary… it turns it all into a bit of a fumble towards the end.
Even though short bursts won’t be the intended way to achieve the main goal of One Finger Death Punch 2 to the player: That being a growth of the player’s reactionary abilities, it might be the only way to enjoy it to the fullest extent. It’s slow in progression, the length is a complete farce to consider, and the bells and whistles attached to an otherwise normal challenge only seek to irritate. The meat that’s visible underneath the drenched salad is still tasty, though.
This review was based upon the Xbox One version of the game. A review code was provided for this purpose.
The return of a truly underground classic isn't as bombastic as expected, with it coming down to being more overblown than its predecessor. A trimming would've worked wonders here.
Owner of the largest collection of indie games in the Western Hemisphere, and TimeSplitters’ biggest fanboy.