You’re standing in an elevator with two burly purple guys wearing suspenders, ready to punch your lights out. If you attack them, they’ll hit you back. If you stay where you are, they’ll punch you in a couple of seconds.
What do you do?
You only have six potential tiles to move to – and that’s going to depend on whether or not you have a card in hand to get you there. Either way, you have to get out of this tile. And if you decide you’re going to hit one of these upscale Grimaces, how are you going to pull it off so that they don’t hit you right back?
Every encounter in Ground Shatter’s Fights in Tight Spaces is like this. A collection of fill-bucket’ed meanies drop in from the ceiling into a very tiny room with you, Agent 11. Your task is to kill them all. Unlike in Into the Breach, where the Vek are also trying to destroy buildings and can be tricked into using their attacks against each other, the enemies in Fights have just one objective: kicking your besuited ass.
You’ll just have to kick their be-jeans’ed asses first. You do this through playing the cards you collect throughout the game, which each have an attack, a move, a block, or some kind of buff action on them – often, though, combinations of these effects live together on one card, either as “take both” or “pick one”. Attacks can be simple, like punching an adjacent enemy for 8 damage. They can also get really complex, like pushing a unit back one tile, knocking them to the ground, and then moving into the tile they were in. Jumping off a wall behind you to punch someone really hard. Doing a sick backflip to kick someone and also retreat a tile. Slamming someone’s head into an adjacent surface. You know, sick action movie stunts.
Fights in Tight Spaces excels at turning turn-based combat into gripping, edge-of-your-seat action. It rewards methodical consideration of the board and your options, not just by not killing you but also by making it look really good. Each attack animation is snappy, quick, and well-framed, which makes playing a card feel like you’re actually playing a fighting game.
FiTS’s cleverest resource invention is the Combo meter, which gains a point any time you play an attack, and loses a point any time you use a card to move without attacking. Many mid-tier cards in FiTS require you to be at a certain Combo threshold to play them – but they don’t actually use Combo points as a cost, nor do they use the base resource, Momentum. Stringing together attacks and attacks-with-moves into a deadly dance is the core way to maintain access to your whole suite of tools. If you really need to do some damage, certain cards are Combo Finishers – they’ll wipe out your Combo points, but they do increased damage based on how many Combo points you have first.
I’ve had a bunch of fun with FiTS so far, and I’m eager to see where it goes. There are some informational clarity things that could be polished, and while I love the variety in the current card set I’d love to see future cards lean into the wackier, pulpier side of secret agent fiction. Give Agent 11 some weird gadgets, please.
Fights in Tight Spaces is out now on Steam in Early Access.