icon Author: Alexkayl
Fights in Tight Spaces Review

Fights pick no time nor place. They often come without warning and you’re going to need your best deck of skills, as your enemies won’t hold back. In this Fights in Tight Spaces review I’ll tell you how it is, without pulling any punches. This is my first and last pun about Ground Shatter’s stylish turn-based strategy and deck-building hybrid, with an emphasis on John Wick-level shenanigans and an immeasurable number of blood splatters… But thankfully with less dog cruelty.

Paint the Town Red

The first thing that will jump straight at you – apart from a clenched fist, that is – is the stylish aesthetic of Fights in Tight Spaces. The ‘less is more’ approach is used to perfection here, with a minimalistic design style that makes everything feel right as it should. The character silhouettes have enough visual information for you to easily identify the various types of thugs, from bikers to ninjas or gangsters, while the tight spaces from the title come in several variations, with the exact amount of furniture and clutter to make the area negotiable. Restrooms, garages, and kitchens are just a few examples that will never be the same after your arrival.

A high level of care and attention went into the fighting animations. While the gameplay is turn-based, animations unfold in incredibly dynamic ways and wouldn’t be out of place in an all-out action game. The smooth and perfectly connected movements, the brutality of the punches, flying kicks and head smashes, the crunchy sounds… The combination of these elements makes every blow feel powerful and consequential, as some sort of vicious dance choreography. The more complex the moves are, the more fascinating the animation is. Not for the squeamish for sure, but fans of ultra-violent fighting movies will find delight in the manner that the action stages unfurl.

Outnumbered and Outgunned

The turn-based game mechanics powering Fights in Tight Spaces are simple yet deep. The tutorial does a great job of showing you how to use your cards to effectively attack your enemies and protect yourself in each turn, but the number of options ramp up at a steady pace, suddenly opening a new world filled with tactical possibilities and relentless violence.

You have all sorts of resourceful cards to get yourself out of most situations, from movement to attacks, blocks or counters. You use Momentum to draw cards, according to the number of points that a specific action requires. Building combos also allows you to activate special cards, which means that there is a wide range of tactics to build upon, some of them only available to the most skilled agents. However, if you feel like you have done a bad move during one turn, a useful Rollback feature allows you to undo your recent actions and try again.

As you further explore the possibilities, you come up with new ways of cleaning a room. Interestingly enough, some enemies lock their attack actions, indicated by the marker on the floor, so it’s a fun time if you can move away from the targeted spot and watch as they punch, kick or shoot a fellow thug while you watch from the first row. For armed enemies, often the best strategy is to take a step aside and witness them shooting at whoever is in the line of fire, saving you precious hit points and a headache or two in the process. Pushing enemies out of the grid is regarded as an elimination, wrestling style, so you should always be on the lookout for the open edges of the map and avoid long, drawn-out fights with just a couple of well-timed shoves.

You may earn some money to spend in a Medical Facility after each stage, if you have achieved a particular goal such as completing the fight within a set number of turns, allowing you to heal your agent, increase his max health, or remove one of those pesky injuries. But if you’re more into enhancing your cards, you’ll be happy to know that you can improve the stats for one card out of a selection of three.

Each mission is composed of several locations and your first runs may seem a little on the unfair side, but with upgraded moves, new cards that you unlock as you level up your character, and a whole new world of punishment in the palm of your hand, you’ll soon be knocking out enemies left and right, chaining moves like in the best action movies. My only complaint is that sometimes it’s hard to see what type of icon is effective below the enemy, but nothing that you can’t figure out by rotating the room.

The Punch Line

Fights in Tight Spaces is a tactical fighter’s dream. It looks great, offers a wealth of strategies for each room, and lets your hard-hitting imagination roam free, often in brutal and jaw-dropping ways. Fans of the deck-building genre or not, this game comes out absolutely recommended – just make sure that the sight of pixelated blood doesn’t make you dizzy.


  • Style to die (and kill) for
  • Tactical depth that goes way beyond first impressions
  • Gets you in the mood for John Wick 4


  • The UI can be a little convoluted at times

Rating: 8/10

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