In the run up to EGX at the end of September, I received several press releases pertaining to a game known as Iron Fisticle. I didn’t even open the messages for some reason, but the name stuck in the back of my mind. Roll on to EGX and on my first night, I attended an indie game show and tell evening in the local O’Neill’s. Lo, what did I find? The friendly chaps from Curve Digital showing off the aforementioned title, Iron Fisticle. I immediately raced over and gave it a blast while later in the evening, after bumping into ex-Reticule writer Ben Borthwick, we gave it a blast in co-op. Since returning from London, I’ve been playing this delightful twin-stick shooter when opportunity arises.
I’m no expert on retro styled twin-stick shooters, hell even the original breed of twin-stick shooters largely passed me by…so this Verdict will likely be on the short side. Fisticle is a simple pleasure with its pixel art and procedurally generated levels. You take your little armoured chap into battle, running around madly, shooting wildly trying to collect as many items and coins as you can. Once the room is clear of enemies, you collect a key, head for one of the exits and proceed to the next room. Simple, but with a hidden depth.
As you progress and pick up items varying from cup cakes to golden turds, you earn points which go towards your end of game score, but are also accumulated over your time with the game to level yourself up. As you climb the levels you will see your maximum health rise while new weapon and bonuses will be unlocked for you to collect from the numerous crates that litter each room. Your little character also has stats applying to weapon damage, running speed and such like. While playing you will find drops which increase these abilities for your current session. If you are smart, you will plan ahead and, upon reaching a shop, you will purchase a permanent boost to these stats or even your starting health. It isn’t a complicated RPG system, but it adds a little something.
The map is also home to more depth than at first glance. While it is procedurally generated like the rooms, if you are lucky enough to find a map during your crazed fights, you can see where bonus stages and shops are dotted around. A smart player will use this knowledge to their advantage, making sure they visit one of the side scrolling, jumping focused bonus stages to collect some coins before hitting the shop. Or, like me, you won’t be able to tell which is the shop or bonus stage on the map because you are colourblind. Not that I’m using that as an excuse for not progressing past the first couple of rooms on the second floor of course.
While I haven’t played co-op since I returned from London, my experience when playing with Ben at the pub was great. I found myself using a retro fightstick (think of something like this) and struggled horribly to remember which buttons to press for normal attacks or the super move which is known as the Iron Fist. Ben, who had previously played the game, was using a 360 pad and had much more success than I did. We managed to gather a bit of a crowd around us as we reached the top score for co-op play on the night. It was great fun, and I would imagine that Iron Fisticle could make an easy transition over to the consoles and would make for a great party game.
It is fun, and mighty challenging at times in singleplayer, but co-operative play is where the real joy in this game is. For £6.99 on Steam though, I think it is worth picking up regardless of whether you are going to play with someone else. Just keep in mind that co-operative play is local only, no online sessions here.
The Verdict – Head Shot
Platforms Available/Reviewed – PC
Please see this post for more on our scoring policy. Review based on Steam media account copy.