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    Fights in Tight Spaces review

    Need to know

    What is it? A turn-based roguelike focused on intense melee combat.
    Expect to pay $25/£19.49
    Developer Ground Shatter
    Publisher Mode 7
    Reviewed on Nvidia GTX 970, Intel I5-4460, 32GB Ram
    Multiplayer? No
    Link Official site (opens in new tab)

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    Smashing an armed goon’s head against the wall before launching his buddy out of a third story window doesn’t sound particularly strategic on paper, but the small-scale turn-based combat of Fights in Tight Spaces transforms even the simplest enemy encounter into an intricate puzzle box where the only solution is your fists. Although its roguelike trappings can sometimes detract from the overall experience, the unforgettable moments where everything comes together in a glorious display of cinematic violence always shine through.

    Stepping into the well polished shoes of Agent 11, a super spy tasked with bringing down international criminal syndicates, the game’s basic plot serves as little more than set dressing to loosely string together the five separate worlds in which the action occurs. Divided into a series of semi-procedurally generated levels, each world has you fighting your way through a number of tightly enclosed locations that range from densely packed subway carriages to compact office corridors. The Hollywood influences are clear to see and it’s undeniably thrilling to try your hand at recreating some iconic film moments like Casino Royale’s opening bathroom brawl or the tea room shootout in Hard Boiled.

    Despite all being rendered in the same charming minimalist style, each world manages to convey enough of a unique aesthetic to memorably set them apart—a fact which is greatly helped by the huge variety of enemy designs that are just waiting to be discovered. In my first run alone I ended up squaring off against a terrifying cleaver-wielding prison chef before bumping into a gang of bloodthirsty ninjas, and yet the sheer number of types on offer meant that every subsequent playthrough still had plenty of surprises in store.

    (Image credit: Mode 7 Games)

    The core emphasis on repeating runs works well, with the gradual unlocking of new starting decks and even the ability to build your own helping to create a solid sense of progression. The same can’t be said of a small handful of the game’s other roguelike elements. In particular, each mission’s bonus objectives, which can be completed to earn currency, become far too difficult as the game progresses. 

    Challenges like the completion of increasingly tricky levels in a pitifully small allowance of turns can seem outright impossible at times and my limited successes were always far more reliant on the luck of the draw than any actual skill. To make matters worse, money is used for everything from upgrading cards on the fly to topping up health in between fights making it an essential component of victory on higher difficulties. I quickly found that the most effective strategy involved focusing exclusively on the easy optional objectives early on to ensure I had enough money for upgrades when the challenges became too difficult to complete, spoiling the flow of the campaign. It’s by no means a deal breaker, but this slightly haphazard implementation of the in-game economy sticks out among the exceptionally polished combat and clean visuals.

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