If Dark Souls and Streets of Rage somehow met, knocked digital boots and gave birth to a dark spawn then the result would be Iron Fisticle. It was these kind of thoughts that I couldn’t get out of my head as I played through the latest rogue-like offering from indie publishers Curve Studios. It’s a furiously difficult 16-bit style adventure where a hunk of roasted street chicken is often the only difference between survival and the Game Over screen.
Launched exclusively for PC on Steam as of right now, Iron Fisticle’s story isn’t important and the game makes that plainly obvious from the get-go. It’s a simple grind through room after room of enemy hordes and the aim is to survive until the next section. Each room finishes with a key that becomes available after the core enemies have been destroyed and the trick is to get the key and escape before the behemoths that simultaneously spawn with the key find a way to pin you down.
The audio is textbook indie chip-tune fare that works well with the game’s twin-stick mechanics and art style. Just as in the rest of the game, nothing here is going to make it on the industry hall of fame or even into the 2014 record books however there is enough game to keep anybody going for a while. The local co-op support is prime for some really enjoyable game nights just as long as you don’t all mind crowding around a PC.
My only complaint regarding Iron Fisticle would be that it places a lot of emphasis on using a controller and preferably of the Xinput Xbox 360 or Xbox One variety. Admittedly this is highlighted in a warning that’s displayed whenever the game is started and follows a trend that is becoming more popular by the day on Steam however it could prove to be a deterrent for PC purists. Keyboard controls were clearly an afterthought and using the standard configuration was clumsy at best. Whilst it is possible to play the game using the keyboard and I actually managed a short session on my laptop over the weekend, you’re probably going to want to dust off the 360 pad for this one.
Overall, Iron Fisticle is an enjoyable and addictive if not slightly unoriginal experience that old-school twin stick shooter and rogue-like fans will no doubt fall in love with. It’s available now on Steam for the reasonable, if not slightly random, price of £5.39/$8.09 and even those who already starting to find the whole second coming of 16-bit a little tiring are likely to find some entertainment here.