Mark Of The Ninja
Game review on PC
Christopher Jarvis / Thu 26th Nov 2015
389 views / 11 bites
OVERVIEW Mark Of The Ninja tells a story of ninjas in the modern world, and uses every tool at its' disposal to do so. Klei's dedication to their work in every aspect of the game and perfectionism (which is described in the developer commentary bubbles spread across the game world) really shows. Here's why Ninja is one of the highest-rated 2D platformers of all time.
The protagonist wakes up to an attack on his ninja clan by heavily armed soldiers. Using powers granted by mysterious tattoos, the player must defend his clan before chasing down the CEO of the corporation that attacked them.
Ancient ninja concepts meet the modern world in this intriguing storyline that grabs your interest at the start and never lets go. Plot twists remain fun and surprising throughout, and the ninja backstory is creative enough to be a positive feature rather than generic and boring. Cutscenes are short and voiceovers are informative without breaking immersion or feeling repetitive.
Mark Of The Ninja's stealth gameplay is something too behold, with many critics calling it some of the best they'd ever seen. Combined with two awesome powers (and one boring one), infinite darts, the ability to walk up walls, and a grappling hook, the maps provide plenty of spaces to explore while still being challenging. Unfortunately, it also makes it too easy to escape from alerted guards, and the penalty makes it hardly worth staying hidden.
There are multiple ways to knock out, kill, or take advantage of guards, and either use, hide, or destroy their bodies. Each rewards the player with a different number of points, which the player can collect to beat high scores and reach point levels (like the classic bronze, silver, and gold trophies), each of which gives the player a point that can be spent on upgrading abilities.
The score system never feels forced, and while the upgrades are a little contrived, the fantastic array of distraction and attack tools available to buy makes it worthwhile. Plus, hanging bodies from lamp posts to scare guards into accidentally shooting each other, and earning points for it, is hours of fun on its' own.
One doesn't even need to read the surprisingly entertaining developer's commentary to realise how much effort went into making Ninja look as good as it does. Layers upon layers of background invite the player into this strange cartoon land of ancient clans in modern times, and some of the smoothest animations in video games today bring the player right into the silent shoes of the ninja.
As one commentary bubble points out, the difference in animation between the guards - with stiffer movement - and the smooth flowing ninja represents the characters well; but it goes much further than that. Designers and developers using the grid-based tool from the Klei game Shank somehow were able to create these intricate worlds that never look like tiles on a grid. The lighting is apparent, giving plenty of visibility while communicating complete darkness. Mark Of The Ninja really is wonderful to look at.
AUDIO Despite the soundtrack being somewhat mediocre, it is used cleverly along with layering and effects to create something beautiful that drastically improves gameplay. The foley is inventive and well done, the acoustics changing with the room the player's in is impressive, and the visual representation of the sounds the player makes are simple and effective. The cherry on top of this aural masterpiece is the professional-quality voiceover work which only serves to make the game more immersive and make the characters more real.
Ninja is a marvel visually, aurally, and in stealth gameplay. A wide array of tools at the player's disposal creates many different play styles and options, and while guards are sometimes too easy to handle, the maps compensate for this with challenge, exploration, and non-linear options.
A simple yet novel approach to stealth as well as a wide array of tools and options means replayability. The storyline and incredible audio help to immerse the player. I would recommend Mark Of The Ninja to anyone who likes stealth, platformers, or scaring guards to death with the bodies of their fallen brothers.
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