With the plethora of 3D action games that are currently out on the market, standing out among the crowd is no easy task. Studios will use big name licenses, hyperbolic fighting moves, provocative cinematics, and unnecessary reboots. Anything goes when trying to assure the player that a title is not just another God of War/Devil May Cry/Dynasty Warriors/[Insert your favorite action game here].
Kung Fu Strike: The Warrior’s Rise is a game that attempts to forego the flashiness, appealing to players by trying to “turn brawling into an art form”. Developed by Shanghai-based Qooc Soft, Kung Fu Strike employs an aesthetic similar to Chinese paintings. Brush strokes line your attacks, framing them in a way that fans of Street Fighter 4 will find eerily familiar.
The narrative follows the exploits of General Loh as he travels through war-torn China, which is currently being fought over by three warring groups. Unheard of, I know, but the love triangle that is ancient Chinese mythology/history has come up again. The Tian empire is currently being invaded by the Shaa, but there is also a band of rebels that have their own agenda.
The game’s goal is to place the player at the center of a hectic Kung Fu movie, and the gameplay accomplishes that almost too well. The gameplay is entirely combat based, with no travel, platforming, or exploration required. From the first stage on, you are beset by waves of various enemies. Your enemies seem to have studied up on their Kung Fu movies as well, because they will all come at you at once. Whether they wield staves, shuriken, bombs, or their fists, no one waits for the player to pick them off one by one. Armed only with your fists and feet, you must defeat the oncoming waves of enemies, mini-bosses, and masters to build funds, learn new attacks, and progress through the game.
Kung Fu Strike employs a very simple four-button system. Despite its simplicity, the game affords you no way to adjust your controls. If you pick this up on PC, the use of Xpadder or Joy2Key with a controller can fix that quickly. Using a combination of regular attacks, jumps, evasive maneuvers, and deflection, the player can rack up combos and even restore health by deflecting an incoming move and countering the assailant.
Button mashing in this game will get you about three steps past nowhere. The gameplay is deceptively fast, as you need to keep up with multiple enemies at once; mashing attack after being knocked down is almost assured to land you right back on your ass.
Luckily, General Loh’s training has afforded him access to numerous special moves, more of which unlock as you progress through the game. Properly timed deflection also builds up the chi meter for special moves, and some special attacks have button modifiers that provide greater utility with slight variations in how damage is dealt.
Defeating waves of enemies will cause them to drop gold, food for health, elixers to instantly cap out your chi meter, or horns to summon armies of your own. General Loh earned the rank for a reason, and progressing through the game will strengthen your forces.
All in all, Kung Fu Strike is a fun-yet-frustrating game. Enemies occasionally indicate when they are going to attack, but the indication system feels arbitrary at times. You will want to pay attention to the poses each enemy makes before attacking, as color indicators will flat out deceive you at times. The game also offers co-op and vs. modes. The co-op just allows another player to join in on the first player’s main storyline. I didn’t have a chance to try vs. mode, unfortunately.
Despite my occasional frustration with the game, this is a great initial offering from Qooc Soft. Kung Fu Strike: The Warrior’s Rise is worth the purchase, and I look forward to their next title.