Over the course of the last few years, I’ve been quite fortunate to play a bunch of games that I probably would never have considered. I’ve also been able to play a fair few genres that, if not for these indie games, may not exist. While Fights in Tight Spaces can’t lay claim to creating a genre, it definitely fits well with what I’ve played before – Deep Sky Derelicts and Nowhere Prophet. I’ve had nothing but good experiences with card-based games and yet I don’t seem to play very many for some reason.
Fights in Tight Spaces has you play as an incredible hand-to-hand combat specialist, working for a governmental agency and tasked with taking down the various gangs of the city. You start out with a set deck of cards that you draw from in order to fight your enemies. To begin with, the decks all have a theme – balanced, defensive, offensive and “trickster” – but as you progress you can add cards by winning fights and buying them from the gym. You’ll get a fair few cards and when you get a decent hand and are able to smash your way through a few enemies in one go it’s pretty amazing. Each card is different, with its own animation and stats so it’s always exciting when you get a new card, especially when you can immediately use it to wreck an enemy by punching them to custard.
Visually, Fights in Tight Spaces is a really clean game to look at. It reminds me a lot of Superhot but enemies can be varying colours depending on their threat levels, abilities and also whether or not they’re someone you need to save or not. There are also useful markers on the ground that tell you where the enemies on the battlefield can attack, so you can make your plays based on where they will attack to. Some have ranged attacks, some can only hit within one square of you, and some are really annoying and give you a clip round the ear if you perform an offensive action.
As there are lots of different potential threats coming at you, and a very small battlefield, the requirement for tactical thinking in the game is quite high. There’s a decent number of cards to use, and you can employ a few different tactics in order to ensure your continued survival. My favourite one is the all-out offence tactic where you basically try to hit people as hard as you can so they don’t get to hit you, with a few sidesteps in place in case you don’t quite manage to finish off your target. Another solid option I found was counter-attacking, using various blocks and counter cards that stack so when someone bumps into you, you can punch them a few times in retribution. No matter what method you choose though, you’ll have to be on top form and try to consider every potential outcome before you move. One wrong step could ruin an entire game.
There is a major downside though, which comes with the randomisation. The best way to win this game is to essentially not get hit, as far as you possibly can. It is possible to heal yourself, but very infrequently so it is imperative that you avoid damage. Sometimes though, you can’t help but get hit, sometimes multiple times, sometimes by people with ridiculously powerful moves, which can really devastate your game, potentially ending it prematurely. It is absolutely rage-inducing when you see it coming and have no possible way out of it though. You could have put an hour or two into a playthrough, only to get royally screwed over by some pants random generation.
With all the random death coming, you’ll need to restart often as well. It may only be a very picky complaint, but Fights in Tight Spaces forces you to go through the chat with your commanding officer about what deck you want to pick, and then again about the gang you’ll be beating up. It’s pointless forcing players to cycle through all the same old text which they absolutely will never read just to play the game again. Have it the first time, definitely, but after that it’s just rubbing it in that the player has to start over again.
Fights in Tight Spaces has a lot of potential, and I’m certainly very excited to see where the developers go with the game, but it’s not worth what they’re advertising for it at the moment. I understand their desire to make it tough, but they don’t make it fair and, for my money, that is a reason to steer clear until the game has matured a bit more and a few more updates have been pushed out to rebalance things.