Whenever filling in a CV, aside from the obvious gaming declaration, martial arts always feature in my interests section. Forget ebony and ivory; the former are in perfect harmony in Fights In Tight Places Prologue.
A title that prominently features in my watchlist, Steam very generously reminded me that there was a playable demo available, so that’s what this piece is about, having downloaded and tinkered with it.
Don’t expect any background checks or discourse about the game other than a turn-based combat title using various martial art moves and as many cards – it’s sort of a deck-building game. With all these genres, we’re spoilt!
Fights In Tight Places Prologue Preview
In the game, you play Agent 11. There’s no need for exposition as you’re a deadly killing machine, opting for the .44 fist and 12 gauge toecap. On offer in your chosen profession is a tutorial and a biker arc. Nobody likes tutorials, but it’s worth running through this one as it’s brief but teaches you things you might miss for a while.
Going down the biker path, you get the choice to pick a place to fight – from toilets to tattoo parlours, kitchens to alleyways. From memory, it’s procedurally generated, so no one playthrough is the same.
Depicted in an isometric viewpoint, easily rotated with Q and E, your agent is placed on a tile with enemies scattered next to you. The tight places in the title are not remotely misleading, as you can find your movement restricted if you don’t have a strategy.
The best possible comparision at this stage is Hitman Go. It’s the only title I can think of that is closest to this, though yourself and the enemies are represented by 3D silhouettes with minimal colours indicating specific threats.
More Moves Than Disco Stu
At the beginning of each hand, you’ll receive a row of cards you can choose from to apply your offence or defence. The learning curve here is very minimal, and it’s oh-so intuitive.
Agent 11 has action points that dictate the moves they can perform, how many tiles they cover, as well as a finishing move that can be achieved through accumulating a combo meter (though it resets if you pull off the move).
The variety of moves on offer in Fights In Tight Places Prologue is superb, with bone-crunching roundhouses, spinning backhanders, plus a handful of counters, blocks and quick blocks.
These attacks aren’t just the highlights, but switching and spinning around an enemy like Jackie Chan not only looks cool, but you may find than an enemy has already committed an attack. When you encounter guns and blowtorch wielding maniacs, flipping a body in front of you is sometimes the best defence.
From my perspective, Fights In Tight Places Prologue, from Ground Shatter and Mode 7, has a very short learning curve, but it isn’t easy. I seem to recall medical centres to restore health, but you can’t do it mid-game. You can only take so many hits.
While it’s detrimental to your progression, receiving an injury in Fights In Tight Places Prologue is excellent as it cancels out a card or two, restricting your options even further. On this part, the strategy element is very apparent, and survival isn’t about how many hits you can take, but being a handful of steps ahead to avoid or counter them.
On one level, a kitchen one I believe, I was cornered by about four goons – two with crowbars. Having your back to a wall in a fight can rarely offer an advantage, but it allowed me to pick off one character a time, without anybody sucker punching.
Unfortunately, there’s a rating system here where the fewer moves you complete the stage in, the better. Admittedly, it was much more enjoyable prolonging the fights (where possible) by switching places with the baddies or wall smashing them for an almost instant kill.
Substance And Style? One Of Your 5 A Day
When the trailers and screenshots first came out for Fights In Tight Places Prologue, it did feel a bit too stylish. Sure, it looks great, but what will the gameplay be like? Is there much to it or just a game of chance?
Thankfully, there’s a lot of depth to the game (so far). It just so happens that the controls etc. are so well designed that it gives the impression that it’s an easy game. It’s not. If you fail a mission, it’s game over without continues.
A further incentive with the game is the money awarded for each fight. If you’re able to complete a stage in a minimal amount of moves, you can invest the winnings in upgraded cards such as their damage ability, or buy new cards altogether.
The experience was a positive once, and this demo has further reinforced the anticipation for this game. It’s one to watch, and if this appraisal has moistened you up, or you’re only mildly interested, I encourage you to download the demo now which is available on Steam.
Fights In Tight Places Prologue doesn’t have a firm release date yet, but it should be early this year.