App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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Action sequences in movies and games are fundamentally different things and should be treated as such. Where cinematic action is scripted and choreographed to create the illusion of improvisation in the context of a greater narrative, there's no reason for a game to do this unless its goal is to be cinematic (which, by the way, is kind of boring and played out). One Finger Death Punch II is a game that proves this point. It serves up torrents of martial arts action distilled within a simple gameplay formula without worrying about anything else, and it's all the better for it.
Bursts of bouts
When you first boot One Finger Death Punch II, the game makes it very clear the kind of game that it is. The first thing that pops up is a dislaimer, which reads "Simplicity to perfection. To be played in short bursts. By design, there is no story. Only crazy king-fu." This is a nearly perfect summation of an action game that relies on your reflexes to tap either the left or right side of the screen to take down waves of enemies crashing down on you at high speed.
One Finger Death Punch II is just level after level of these overwhelmingly uneven fights where you carve through all kinds of armed and skilled enemies with speed and precision. Depending on your performance, the game adjusts its speed to match your abilities, all while escalating the enemy and level types the further you get into the game.
Read your opponents
There's a surprising amount of complexity that emerges from One Finger Death Punch II's basic gameplay, thanks mostly to differing enemy types and equippable weapons. What starts as simple tapping to dispatch enemies within range transforms with enemies that may take multiple taps to kill, or ones that dodge behind you when you strike. Other enemies may enter one-on-one combat with you, or you may be need to catch or dodge a projectile coming at you in the midst of the action. All of this happens at a breakneck pace where the speed at which you can perform combat triage determines your ability to survive and earn a five-star ranking.
None of this blistering action would work as well as it does if it weren't for One Finger Death Punch II's visual design, which is a combination of outlandish, stick figure violence and intuitive, legible UI. This makes for a game that allows you to read and react to situations in fractions of a second easily, all while being able to view and enjoy the over-the-top action being put on display.
One Finger Death Punch II is meant to be played in short bursts, but it has some progression mechanics that can keep you diving into levels in search of upgrades quite easily. These unlocks can also help you if you want to revisit levels where you missed enough strikes to earn a less than perfect star rating.
Over time, though, One Finger Death Punch II's action can (understandably), feel a little one note. I don't have a problem with this, per se, but it is a little annoying that the game doesn't seem as fully designed around occasional burst play as it claims. Without iCloud support or some of the modes present in other versions of the game, this mobile iteration feels less capable of delivering an experience that's as easy to dive in and out of as it could be.
The bottom line
Action-heavy, reflex-dependent games that feel good on mobile are hard to come by, which is all the more reason to celebrate One Finger Death Punch II. Silver Dollar Games makes it look easy. Although this mobile version isn't quite up to par with the others, One Finger Death Punch II is still a satisfyingly brutal experience well worth checking out.