Spartan Fist is a first person brawler where you have to punch your way through randomly generated maps. Along the way, there are tonnes of special attacks and silly upgrades that turn each new playthrough into a hilarious beatdown of hapless enemies.
Developed by Seattle based developer Glass Bottom Games, Spartan Fist’s origins spring from personal tragedy. As Glass Bottom Games finished development on a Metroidvania game called Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore A Fedora, Spartan Fist game designer and programmer Megan Fox’s mother passed away. Fox recalls an emotional outburst that led to the decision to make Spartan Fist.
“I’m walking into the living room with a bowl of spaghetti and I drop it because that happens,” Fox told Kotaku over the phone. “And I lose my shit, I punch the carpet as I’m trying to pick things up. I punch it hard enough to break my hand. I angrily scrape the spaghetti back into my bowl and sit with a horribly painful hand for a full ten count, angrily eating spaghetti with carpet fragments in it as my family looked on and I realised maybe there was a problem.”
Glass Bottom Games was considering its next project and had floated the idea of making a first person brawler. Spartan Fist’s particular brand of cartoon violence and silly abilities grew out of a desire to “give people a safe space to rage and yell until they explode,” according to Fox. Opting to shy away from hyper-realistic violence, Spartan Fist uses a voxel art style and bright neon colours to create a sense of raucous fun. The player has access to numerous upgrades from a hard hitting Stone Fist to a silly, slapping Bear Fist, and they can be augmented with different abilities such as fire damage or the ability to knock enemies into the air.
“I wanted to make something that had all of the viscerality without the viscera,” Fox said.
The end result is pretty damn fun, if occasionally uneven. Attacks are weighty and punching enemies into voxel bits creates captivating fights. The ability to swap to various stances means players can experiment with new combos and allows players to adjust their tactics on the fly. Figuring out the best stance for a given enemy and timing your punches to avoid their attacks is a good time. The spectacle is occasionally marred by dropped framerate and busted enemy pathfinding. It can feel disappointing to drop a combo because the game stuttered, and bashing unaware enemies is a bit cheap.
Thankfully these moments are rare, leaving a game that does exactly what it sets out to do. If you’re looking for a place to throw some fists, it’s worth leaping into Spartan Fist and smacking some robotic kittens around.