The best way to describe Fights in Tight Spaces is to evoke both John Wick Hex and Superhot. It takes the tactical plotting and foresight of the former and mixes it with the black, white and red aesthetic of the latter, creating a game that seems to offer immediate catharsis but demands something much more cerebral in practice.
You play as either male or female Agent 11, a Bourne/Bond-esque super agent tasked with infiltrating and dismantling six global gangs or agencies from the inside – often by smashing in faces and snapping femurs. There’s no spy work at play here beyond slapping the shit out of everyone who gets in your way.
It’s structured like a turn-based tactics game, with you allocated a set amount of movement and action points referred to as Momentum. Moves are dished out on cards, and you’ll begin each fresh run by selecting a deck with a certain theme. The default focuses on a mix of offence and defence, but others have specialisations or mixtures. You will need to unlock further options through progressions, so if you find yourself muddling on a little, hold tight and push through as you’ll eventually have a decent choice available.
I found most of the more successful runs to be book-ended by difficulty, particularly before I had unlocked enough new decks to vary my tactics. The challenge ramps up fast, too, as the game throws more and more enemies at you in small spaces crowded by vaguely defined furniture and scenery. The cards give you a good variety of attacks and defensive moves, but you must build up Momentum before you can spend it. This means playing certain cards tactically where possible, though there are times where you’ll have to make do.
Ultimately, you’ll be aiming to take out your enemies as quickly as you can, utilising the surroundings if possible. Smash their heads off a pipe or convenient for all works a treat, or booting them out the nearest window. The cast of enemies have various strengths and weaknesses, and it’s up to you to identify them and use them against your foes. For example, some enemies will attack with wild haymakers, and so luring them within range of their buddies will cause a chucklesome “accident”. Some have firearms and other weapons that you can manipulate and exploit.
The roguelike nature of the default difficulty means you’ll replay a lot of earlier missions (which you can skip after a certain point), but this has the upshot of getting you intimately acquainted with the mechanics of each enemy and card you can pull. You can also allow for replayable missions if you’d like a less strict challenge.
Another inspiration from John Wick Hex is the action replay when a mission is done. Ostensibly this is to show off your cool moves and level-headed tactics, but it suffers in the executions. It’s not smooth enough, and even with the dynamic camera on it judders and stumbles in motion. It doesn’t produce the kick-ass fight sequences it aims to, but it’s still a nice touch to have.
Fights in Tight Spaces has a solid core concept that mostly works in practice. It’s held back in some ways by its difficulty, which often demands perfection from the player and so leaves little room for real experimentation or risk-taking. Yes you can ultimately try different decks and combinations, but one wrong move can destroy you and so you’re discouraged from using tried and tested methods for each type of enemy.
Still, it’s a fun and stylish take on the turn-based tactics genre and blends deck-building and roguelike progression in a unique way that feels like it almost has a genre of its own. The replay system needs some fine-tuning and the difficulty may put you off at first, but it’s a decent game for those after a different kind of challenge.
Combat is superb when it flows
Difficulty is a little inconsistent
Action replay is clunky
Decks can feel limited at first