Games you should be playing but you’re probably not: Mark of the Ninja
Combine an seemingly endless stream of awesome releases coming out every year with a backlog that only continues to propagate (you keep telling yourself you’re going get to those games, but let’s be honest you’re never get around to it) it’s easy to let some amazing titles pass us by. This little series I’m making will hopefully shed some light on these titles that deserve your attention. In full disclosure these are not necessarily full reviews as I may not have completed these games, but played them enough to get them a full thumps up.
Mark of the Ninja
This XBLA stealth title was almost unanimously praised by gaming sites everywhere yet received a god-awful release date that damped the hype. It was released on September 7th this year that was not only post-Summer of Arcade, but also on a Friday not the usual Tuesday. So I feel like this game’s spotlight came and went without as much attention that it deserves.
Mark of the Ninja is a 2D stealth game where one you’re a badass ninja with magical tattoo powers who sneaks in the shadows and butchers unsuspecting guards. Now I feel like I should stop it right there because those words should be enough evidence for a purchase but I’ll go on because I got nothing else to do right now.
The excellent level design and player freedom are what really makes this game so addicting. There are always different paths that your stealthy ninja can take to avoid alarms and guards. You have several items at your disposal like darts and noise makers that you can use to distract guards or break lights to create shadows to sneak in. Mark of the Ninja gives players enough freedom in how they want to precede it reminds me of Deus Ex (without dialogue options of course.)
Like any self-respecting ninja, your character has a sword that is used to end the lives of unsuspecting enemies; but unlike many stealth games where a one-button input is necessary to get a clean kill; there is a small mini game that requires you to match the button prompt to complete a stealthy kill. If you don’t match the prompt, you still get the kill but your prey lets out a scream that could alert his buddies to your presents. No matter which kill you get however, you get a sinfully brutal kill that, I won’t lie, rubs the psycho in me the right way.
While many stealth games seem to want you to either go non-lethal or assassinate everyone and everything you can, while playing Mark of Ninja I really got a sense that both ways were just as satisfying. The game does give an arcade points style score for the stealthier you can past levels, and there is a bonus for no kills, but I felt that the game rewarded you for both lethal and non-lethal play styles.
One other positive thing that Mark of the Ninja surprised me on was the awesome art style. Klei Entertainment, the guys behind the Shank games, created another title with a gorgeous cartoon art style. It really reminds me of Batman the Animated Series, which is my favorite cartoon of all time, so feel free to call out my bias.
Long story short, if you’re a stealth game fan or a fan of ninja killing
BUY THIS GAME NOW!!!!!!!!
If you’re not one of those, play the demo first and I think you’ll find something to like about Mark of the Ninja.