Fights in Tight Spaces was fun when it launched on PC in the fall of 2020, but now that you can play it in handheld it is better than ever!
- Title: Fights in Tight Spaces
- Release Date: May 25, 2023 (Switch Version)
- Price: $24.99
- Suggested Audience Age: Rated M for Mature by the ESRB
- Availability: Switch (reviewed), Steam, Xbox, PlayStation
- Recommended for fans of: Tactical Action, Deck-Building, and Fast-Paced Action in Slow Motion
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.
I first caught wind of Fights in Tight Spaces shortly after seeing the first two John Wick movies and was instantly on board. Even though John Wick Hex came out a full year before, the Superhot-inspired visuals and deck-building gameplay had me way more intrigued.
I got a chance to try the game's PC version out back when it was released and really liked it, but dropped off pretty quickly because it just didn’t feel like a “sit at the computer” game.
Then, out of nowhere, I saw that Fights in Tight Spaces was coming to Switch and jumped at the chance to pick it up again.
Build a Deck, Punch a Goon
The structure of Fights in Tight Spaces is reminiscent of Slay the Spire or any of the many, many deckbuilding roguelikes and lites that have followed in its footsteps. You start with a deck of cards, go into an encounter where you play a few cards each turn to defeat your enemies, and after the encounter pick up a new card or currency that you can use to upgrade your character to make future encounters easier.
In the encounters, you control Agent 11, an avatar that you can swap between masculine and feminine at the start of each run. You and a group of enemies all drop into a small, grid-based environment where you are tasked (usually) with the primary objective of beating all of your foes. Enemies' intentions are shown during your turn, so a lot of this game plays out like Into the Breach, with you using movement abilities to reposition yourself out of harm's way or to push enemies into each other's paths. Outside of moving and attacking, you can also give yourself buffs like shields or counterattacks, or throw negative effects like bleed or stun at your foes.
The gameplay of Fights in Tight Spaces trades on the fantasy of rapid close-quarters combat, but I end up playing it extremely slowly. Because it draws both on deck-building and card-based gameplay and a deep tactical system, there is a lot of nuance to the action. I've been playing on the middle of several difficulty options, and even then I have only made it to the second of four bosses.
Thankfully, this game is fairly generous with progression. Once you defeat the leader of a gang you unlock the ability to start future runs after that boss fight. Of course, skipping that series of sights means skipping the new cards and bonuses you’d get from them. You also have a sort of career progression level, where each run earns experience, and leveling up unlocks new cards that can appear in a run. Level up enough and you can even unlock new starting decks, each focused on a different sort of combat.
My favorite aspect of Fights in Tight Spaces is maneuvering enemies to knock each other out. I’m still working towards unlocking a grappling-focused deck, but just with the abilities in the basic deck and a few random pickups, I can usually put together a combat flow of dodging around enemies and shoving them in front of each other that has them fighting each other more than me. Watching for those opportunities makes this game shine, and scratches both my deck-building and tactics rpg itches. The only other game I’ve played that has worked cards and positioning together in a similar way is Marvel’s Midnight Suns. While I like the story in that game quite a lot and Fights in Tight Spaces had almost none to speak of, I think this weird indie tale has far more interesting combat.
Now that Fights in Tight Spaces is on Switch, I’m excited to spend more time with it. Really, the only negative thing I can say is that it turns out this game takes a lot more focus than I remembered. Part of the joy of playing on Switch is being able to pick up a game while watching some trashy TV with my wife, and there's no way I can pay attention to boat-based drama while I'm figuring out how to take out an army of ninjas!