One Strike Review
Quite often I find myself feeling nostalgic and feeling the need to play something from when I found out gaming was even a thing. For me, Super Nintendo games were the oldest ones I came in touch with, so games like Mortal Kombat are what I am talking about when I talk of nostalgia. Finely designed pixelated graphics in artfully created games that tested your skills in all sorts of situations. Taking Mortal Kombat again for example, things were very thorough. The graphics themselves played a major role adding to the simplicity of things and making the game all the more intense.
Retro Reactor, an indie game studio from Brazil, took the idea of fighting games to a new level with a blast from the past, making something we all needed in our lives, but just did not know it yet. Enter One Strike, the one-hit kill fighting game, where your reflexes are your only way of getting out victorious and even more importantly, alive.
I usually do not spend all too much time on smaller content games, but there are gems now and then that you know you will enjoy playing, even before they come out. I have been following One Strike for a couple months now, making it even more interesting for me to be able to finally play it and review it. I quite enjoyed actually how open the studio was to suggestions on various things on the game’s development and I loved how they also updated their followers with the development progress. It felt as if I was part of it and that already made it special for me when I finally got to try out the finished product.
In One Strike, we take control of one of six different Japanese warriors, all with their own unique playstyle and weapon of choice. With our chosen warrior, we try our best to tackle every challenge that is presented to us by other warriors through various modes and in the end conquer Japan. The modes vary, ranging from “The Only Life” where we only have one life and must beat all of the six different warriors, to Arcade, Tournament and Team Duel. Most of those modes look very much alike, with a few differences.
- “The Only Life” is the very core of the game, taking us through a story where our chosen warrior must defeat each different challenger without dying, thus proving his or her prowess in combat.
- Arcade is your classic fighting game mode with the only difference from “The Only Life” being that you have 5 lives, thus making it the best mode (as suggested by the game too) to learn new characters and practice a new playstyle.
- Team Duel allows us to have three different warriors on our team to finish the game, each with only one life.
Tournament was a whole different story. When I launched my first run on Tournament, I saw some brackets and soon enough realized what it meant. But when my fight finished, I got to see how the computer-controller characters did in their fights too, by watching the fights one by one. At first I was weirded out, thinking “why would this be included and why would I want to waste my time watching what the computer characters are doing against each other?” But then I realized that, if the results were automatic and I never got to see the fights, then this game mode would not differ much from “The Only Life” mode. Not only that, but it also felt somewhat cool to be able to watch the rest of the fights. It actually felt as if I was watching a short movie, filled with action-packed fights that ended really fast. It was most certainly more fun than I anticipated.
Modes aside, the game plays well and to the point. The name One Strike lives up to its name with the gameplay being in the style of high risk, high rewards. The warriors’ playstyles all differ in a way that allow the player to explore quite a bit before realizing what their favorite, personal, playstyle would be. I personally went for the Shinobi girl who was equipped with dual Sai. I like quick and jump-y kind of playstyles, so I felt quite at home with her.
Finding out what character suits you though, does not mean the learning is done there. Just like most other fighting games, trying out everything is vital to understanding how to win properly against that character when you face them. I had to train using my character of choice against all six characters. However, the balance in the game is quite well done and the low amount of characters in the roster helps make that diverse and still keep it interesting and fair. Once you learn how to defeat each character with your own, you start pumping the difficulty from easy to normal and then from normal to hard, testing your skills to its limits.
One Strike most definitely does really well on keep the core values of fighting games intact. Even though it is a one-hit kill game, the bluffing, defending and probing opponents’ attacks are all there, making it a very quick-paced but also thrilling experience for any player that will pick up the game.
Made with the Unity Engine, One Strike is very on-point with everything. You would think that there would be bugs left and right, but I did not experience any. The biggest focus in the game however, apart from the gameplay of course, have to be the visuals. The pixelated art that the studio has chosen is very accomodating and fitting. Not only do they make us feel nostalgic, but also allow for the simplicity of the visuals to aid in the very reflex-based combat that happens throughout the game. Simpler graphics also means simpler “tells” to look for when in a fight. The backgrounds are also quite well done, keeping it as busy as it should be but not too much, thus not hindering the player’s sight and allowing for full focus on the fight.
A thing that is somewhat important in full pixel-art games, is that most of the times, developers stay true to a certain size of pixels throughout the entire development of the game. Instead, Retro Reactor decided to remind us that this is a contemporary game by adding full definition art of each character on the character selection screen, thus making a huge contrast to everything else in the game. This is a nice touch that gives a little bit more depth to each character and allows the players to see the real differences between each one of them.
The score screen allows to see what games modes we have finished, on what difficulty and with what characters.
Last but not least, the music. Oh man the music. It is simple, just like the rest of the game, and it does its job pretty darn well. The chiptunes that we hear throughout both menus and combat are all very relevant, with some of them reminiscing old Japanese tunes. My only complaint on this is that, due to how fast the game is, we barely ever get to listen to the full chiptune at any given time. I distinctly remember staying on the character selection screen for about 2 minutes, just so that I can listen to the full track that plays over that (which I believe was also my favorite one).
I usually look for something that might be missing in a game, but I honestly feel like the balance of things is just perfect with it. I cannot even say if I would ever want more characters or anything else added to it, but then again, I am sure Retro Reactor can surprise us with pleasant things in the future.
Overall, a small but very well developed game that does what it sets out to do in a complete and successful way. One-hit kills means you are in and out of a fight really fast, but the more you play it, the better you get at it, allowing you to get rewarded for being smarter at it. If you are a fan of fighting games or if you are always looking for more fast-paced and very fun games, One Strike should most definitely be in your games library.
+ Fun and fast-paced gameplay
+ Good game balance with a well-numbered roster of different characters to keep it interesting
+ Nicely done pixel art for both characters and backgrounds with a few other touches here and there
+ Interesting modes, which although are not too different, give you a reason to try them
Score : 8,4/10
~Konstantinos “Kelfecil” Christakis