F.I.S.T.

I recently started playing this… it’s a game. If I told you what it actually stood for I think you’d be even more confused. I tried to explain this game to a friend the other day and completely failed. The only thing I think I correctly conveyed was that the characters in the games are called furrizens… cuz they’re animals, but also citizens… furrizens. The premise and characters i sort of warmed up to, there was a big WW1 between some animal factions and our protagonist was a war hero of sorts. I was too concerned with the fact this 30$ side scrolling metroidvania was kicking my ass. I’m getting old. To the point where games difficulties constantly frustrate me, and I either A) Stop being a whiny bitch or B) give up completely with maybe a 28% chance of returning to the game at a later date… that percentage goes down as time from the initial quitting date lengthens… it’s a whole equation thing. I did just muster up the courage to finish Jedi: Fallen Order on NOT story mode…. which I was proud of considering I died 20+ times fighting the 9th sister boss AND I had made it to the end of Doom: Eternal not on the don’t hurt me setting…. anyways F*ck that game… that’s a whole nother bitch session. ANYWHO… back to FIST.

Did I mention you’re a rabbit with a giant mech arm attached to your back fighting against injustice and oppression? The designs of the characters and environments are… REALLY impressive in some areas, and super boring and plain in others. Areas like the Western End and the actual city hub are gorgeous. The western end is a desolate army camp covered in snow, and really portrays that the resistance is not doing so hot. I feel like a LARGE chunk of work went towards the city area. It’s super impressive to just stop and take it in. Displayed in its 2.5D glory it’s a nice combo between Chinese signage and cluttered buildings built on top of each other, with a slight influence from seedy London streets and back alleys. However, a good percentage of the game is underground, and the cave and underground base designs are just… boring. But in the same sense I don’t know how you would make such locations different and unique. That being said the overall look of the game is good not great.

I think the best comparison I can think of is if Shadow Complex, Guacamelee and Blasphemous had a weird child and it preceded to have a really rough childhood. Which I say because I don’t remember having the level of frustration I’ve had with FIST with any of those other games. FISTs combat rhythm is difficult. Sometimes needlessly so. I’m nearing the end of the game and am yet to finish some intermediate training from Master wu (your mister Miagi figure in the game) cuz for some reason the training combos are not only sometimes a dozen buttons long but the timing seems unnecessarily difficult. You do pick up a parry technique relatively quick into the game but I think it is the most difficult parry to master of any game in recent memory. It’s a harder parry to master than Blasphemous… yeah.. I know. There’s a special weapon that parries as long as you have it activated BUT it uses one of you special weapons bars. Parrying is free… but… damn.

That all being said I’m still diving head first into fights because when u pull off combos, executions, special moves… it’s glorious. I was having issues w a ninja frog guarding a loot box… THAT’S RIGHT.. NINJA FROG. It consistently kicked my ass until I got it’s timing down and killed it dead. It was almost a Bloodborne level high blood pressure kill. I had to just sit for a minute til my heart beat leveled out.

Some of the higher level baddies can kill you with no problem, and if there’s multiples hanging out, be smart. Chargin’ in can lead to death pretty quickly. BUT the arsenal at your disposal is nothing short of excessive. You have 3 major weapons types, each with their own unlock able move sets, special abilities and timing/feel to them. There’s a massive fist for slow but satisfying punch combos, a carrot shaped drill/fan that whirls to life and continually delivers damage and an electric whip, capable of attacking at a distance. There’s enough variety here to really assemble some crazy combos and finish off some bad guys in some super duper satisfying ways OR you could attack with the wrong one and get your butt handed to you. Then there is also a collection of 4 sub weapons that compliment your attack plan (which are all also upgrade able). You have your carrot juice for health replenishment, a homing rocket launcher, spinning electric nun-chucks (that will auto parry for you), and a trap dummy that will explode when enemies touch them. It is all a little overwhelming. But all the elements are there kill yourself some ninja frogs. As far as these kinda games go, the combat goes beyond what I expected. And although it’s a lot to take in, it should be commended for what it puts on the table.

Just about the time that I was about to complain about there not being a good variety of enemies, something new would pop up kick my ass and put me in my place. Some of these are sort of jarring as the difficulty would spike in some cases. The damn robot samurai killed me consistently until I realized it was worth blasting him with some homing missiles and then trapping him in a spinning drill combo. Then the ninja frogs… those bastards. Boss battles are hit or miss. Some are challenging experiences requiring thought and practice, others you’ll beat without a sweat thinking there MUST be another form coming up. But for the most part they are well designed fun encounters with only a rare few reaching near frustrating.

One thing that needs to be praised is the map and level design. It has been years since I’ve played a game that successfully makes u want to revisits areas to unlock secrets and new items. The exploration the game fosters had me up til 2 in the morning at times looking for nooks in the map looking for anything I had missed. There’s a satisfaction involved with finding new areas that was somewhat lost on most recent efforts of metroidvanias.

Just to wrap this up, I like it. It does more right than it does wrong and more importantly I’m having fun playing it. Sans some frustrating moments and weird difficulty spikes it’s definitely worth playing if you’re a fan of the genre. I haven’t really made a rating system here… 8/10 sounds about right. Let’s go with that.

The Goods: A rabbit with giant mech weapons strapped to its back, Great/challenging combat, variety of weapons/abilities, some fun boss encounters, the story starts off simple but gets pretty involved and interesting later in the game, stellar metroidvania level design that encourages exploration

The Bads: Some boring level design/art direction, some difficultly spikes, high learning curve for combat… the parrying, music is… ok, some quasi non essential secondary weapons