Fightback Hands-On Preview

Ninja Theory is best known as the developer of console hits like Heavenly Sword and Devil May Cry, so it’s exciting when they turn their attention to the mobile space. Their upcoming iOS game is Fightback, a side-scrolling action game that features a generic ’80s action hero guy looking to save his helpless, kidnapped sister.

The premise is stupid, but you don’t watch an ’80s action flick for its story; the only thing that matters is whether someone’s ass is getting kicked in spectacular fashion. With that proper context established, Fightback is well on its way to scratching that itch.

Fightback excels in its simplicity. It’s a level based brawler that offers a coherent and surprisingly adept combat system to bash skulls creatively. There are no virtual sticks and buttons to deal with; everything is based on swipes and taps. The early stages I played were fairly simple, with the chief strategy being to dodge attacks and then bust out crippling combo chains for any of the oncoming thugs trying to take you out.

Later on, you’ll need to pull out leaded heat to take out rooms too crowded to handle with your fists and feet alone. As you progress, Fightback eventually sprinkles in new enemy types with unique attack patterns, forcing you to mix things up.


Using a free-to-play model, Fightback has you acquire currency to upgrade weapon parts, buy tattoos, and grab gear to earn more perks. As you progress through the various neon-tinted towns in pursuit of your sister, I imagine many of these bonuses will come into play as you bruise bad guys through Fightback’s 90 levels.

One area from the demo I was slightly disappointed in is the lack of creative punch that we’re used to seeing from Ninja Theory. The creative design isn’t terrible, but the world featuring this nameless hero lacks imagination and signature style. The ’80s were a fun and ironic time, and we can’t help but feel like the setting in Fightback is a promise unfulfilled. Obviously this doesn’t affect how the game plays, but if you’re going to go ’80s, you might as well fully commit to the ridiculousness of the time.

Fightback arrives this Summer on iOS and Google Play stores, and it’s one brawler I’m definitely going to keep an eye on.

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