First up, violence is bad. Hitting people means that something has broken down so completely that there’s really no excuse for things having progressed as far as they’ve gone. Hitting dudes so hard they explode, on the other hand, is just pure awesome, and if that dude happens to be a robo-body piloted by a kitten that just means you can punch it even harder, because while the body turns into a gooey pulp the fishbowl “head” with kitten inside flies away, safe but humiliated. Spartan Fist is a first-person semi-roguelike arena fighter with hideous and cute voxelized dismemberment which, as dismemberment goes, may be one of the most entertaining kinds.
After the events of Hot Tin Roof: The Cat that Wore a Fedora things went very strange for detective Emma Jones. She wasn’t planning on trading in the investigation racket for two-fisted violence but there’s no denying it pays the bills, so she and her cat-friend Franky take to the arena to beat their way to the top. Due to a lack of fists to punch things with Franky is only along for the ride and moral support, but it’s always good to have a backup kitty even if she does speak like a gangster.
The plot is just a cheap excuse to hang the action off, as it traditional for a good dungeon crawl. Once Emma is in the dungeon she can interact with things in a very limited number of ways, all of which involve either hitting or dodging whatever she may come across. She starts off in the staging area with two regular hands but, as she travels from one goon-filled room to another in the arena, soon starts finding new fists plus bubbling substances to dip them in. Emma’s initial hands are the standard variety, good for jabs in the Brawaler stance and uppercuts when switching to Deulist, but for proper bloody carnage she’s going to need upgrades like the spiked rat fist, or the feather fist that gives a nice bonus to punching baddies into the air. She’s got the standard number of hands so can equip two different types, and each fist is controlled individually which allows you to create your own effect combos.
The final layer of complication comes from dips, which accessorize your punches with a variety of bonus effects. The Spicy dip adds fire damage, Blood dip returns a tiny bit of health with every punch, etc. Once you start mixing and matching dips to fists you can create a nice variety of effects, but the goal is always to hit everything so hard it never bothers you again, whether it be the door to the next room shattering into splinters or a mouse-eared robo-dude that flies apart like a voxel-blood pinata.
There’s more than one way to kill the goons, though, with the downside of that being that there’s also more than one way to stumble into death. The arenas are designed to make all participants equally dead, so the pits, fire-traps, trains, and other hazards litter the rooms and make life deadly for all combatants. Not every room in the arena is a death-trap, with some just having detritus to jump on and use to control the flow of enemies, while others have rotating walls with intermittent jets of fire coming out of them. Each level of the arena is a network of rooms with a boss waiting before the exit, and you can either take the risk to go exploring or try to make a bee-line to the exit depending on your personal tolerance for danger and punching.
Spartan Fist mixes cute and violent in a bizarre first-person brawler that’s instantly likeable even before the bloody brutality is taken into account. The adorably deadly enemies and trap-filled rooms make death a single misstep away, but the arena is such a pleasant place to be that it’s hard to complain. Beating up and juggling guys while watching out for anyone getting too close makes for nicely risky encounters, but if you’re careful and attentive you can use the arena to take care of the approaching problem for you. It’s going to take a whole lot of punching to make it to the arena’s final exit, but with two fists and a cat it’s only a matter of pugilistic determination.