One Finger Death Punch’s simplistic control scheme belies a game of remarkable challenge and depth. Your stickman avatar stands rooted to the spot in the centre of a fixed 2D plane; waves of grey enemies advance from either side and all it takes is a tap of either X or B to dispose of them. To start with, anyway: before long you’re dealing with colour-coded foes who require multiple taps in different directions, and Brawlers, whose appearance causes a Guitar Hero-style cascade of button prompts to tumble down the screen. That’s a fine reference point: this, too, is a game where success means slipping into a Zen-like state where you’re not looking at the screen so much as through it. As Bruce Lee once said: “Don’t think. Feel.”
There’s plenty of variety in the scores of bite-size stages strewn around a sprawling world map thanks to different objectives (destroying scenery, deflecting incoming projectiles) and scenery (including a retro film filter which strips the advancing hordes of their colour). There are weapons, too: our favourite, the spiked Death Ball, can be volleyed at foe after foe, speeding up with every kill.
Style can triumph over substance: at busy times it’s hard to track the action amid the explosive hit sparks and fountains of claret, while weapon pickups and slow-mo kills can throw you off your precious rhythm. This is delightful stuff regardless, and with three difficulty levels, a survival mode and a raft of perk-like active skills to experiment with, One Finger Death Punch’s content belies its 80MSP price point as much as its controls disguise the depth of its systems.
One Finger Death Punch is out now on Xbox Live.