Review: One Finger Death Punch

I posted this review on Steam, but I feel it deserves to be read by more than just people who are already considering buying the game. If you’ve never tried it or even heard of it, consider giving it a shot. It’s not expensive and when you’re feeling depressed or unmotivated, I find it to be 100% effective at making me feel ready to take on the world.

Game makes me feel like a badass ninja with only two buttons and stick figures. 10/10

But after playing some more, I feel this game deserves a more in-depth review. Why is this game so amazing? And how, exactly, does it succeed in making me feel like a badass ninja?

In fact, the game can make just about anyone feel like a badass ninja, because it’s brilliantly designed. The controls respond perfectly and are extremely simple to learn. More importantly to the feeling of badassery is the fact that the difficulty scales to your skill level. The levels get progressively harder as you go through the game, but there is a secondary difficulty modifier that responds directly to your performance. When you are doing well, the enemies speed up. When you do poorly, they slow down. This ensures that you are always right at the edge of your ability. You don’t improve according to the whims of the developer, but rather according to your own personal learning speed.

As a result, this is the first action game I have ever played in my life that I actually can feel myself getting better at. I actually feel like I’m doing well, and I can see my own progress very clearly. When I complete each level, I know that I worked hard to get it. It never feels like a level is too easy. But when something absolutely annihilates me the first time around, I try again, it goes a little more slowly, and I get better and better overall. I have never for one moment felt frustrated or discouraged, even though the game actually gets very difficult fairly quickly. My failures have only made me more determined to succeed.

The feeling of accomplishment is complemented by a slew of achievements. There are so many that you can always win at least one during a play session, which releases those happy chemicals in your brain. Most of them are won as a matter of course as you play the game, and most of them are not difficult to obtain. However, when you start, some of them seem like impossible goals. Later, when you win them, you realize once again how skilled you have become at this game, and that you really have earned them.

I find it also helps to think of the game in terms of the larger picture. I’m not just getting better at this game. Getting better at clicking two mouse buttons doesn’t sound like a very useful skill, but in fact, you’re also training your reaction time, focus, and high-speed task management. Keeping that in mind helps me to carry the sense of accomplishment with me even once I walk away from the game.

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