On the surface Spartan Fist looks simplistic, and I’m not going to dispel that notion much with this review. However, there isn’t a rule that I know of that says a game that focuses on a singular play mechanic can’t still be fun. In the case of Spartan Fist, it definitely falls on the side of fun, particularly in small chunks. When playing for a longer time, the repetition began to wear a bit.
When I first started playing I went in and tried to duke it out with my opponents – which are cats by the way – and I didn’t try to defend or evade at all. That was definitely the wrong approach and I got my ass handed to me. The game is 100% combat so getting the punching down was the most critical aspect of doing well. The “fists” in Spartan Fist (ironically, it’s not the plural “Fists” in the title) are controlled individually and each can have it’s own glove type with their own powers or abilities. For instance, the left can have a Rat Fist and the right a Bandage Fist. I mostly stuck with the Rocket Fist when I could because it caused the most damage. The others were gimmicky and not super remarkable.
Some other tactics pertaining to the combat is that the gloves each had a secondary effect, a slower, supposedly harder hitting version of the regular attack. I felt that the increase in how long it took to punch vs the hitting power was less effective than swinging and connecting more with the regular speed swing. It also took time to understand the hit boxes and the timing of the enemy attacks, and locking that down was the cat’s meow. There are also stances, but I can’t say that they made much of a difference from what I could tell. What was more effective were the dips that you could coat your gloves with, which added special damage types, and they stack.
Each death brings an opportunity to spend your “guts”, Spartan Fist’s version of currency, on upgrades and perks, like skipping a level. These extras are definitely essential because the bosses are tough without them. When you die, and you will, you get to do it all over again. The rogue-like part only comes into play for the guts that you’ve collected. The gloves, dips, and progress get reset. That’s why I mentioned in the beginning of this review that shorter playthroughs are more fun, because it can get repetitive. Playing the same level, powering up the gloves, fighting the same enemies on the same looking map, and listening to the same music on a loop can get old after extended gameplay. I also encountered some game-breaking clipping a few times on levels with platforms.
Spartan Fist is a simple pleasure, what you see is what you get, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You’ll have fun as long as you manage your expectations; it will get repetitious while you grind enough upgrades to make it to the end of the game. As far as mono-mechanic games go, Spartan Fist is enjoyable and recommended.