RPG Index: Single player Role Playing Games

Friday, 8 February 2013

Mark of the Ninja

I always find that in recent years, indie games with a low budget are the ones that make the most progress in the gaming industry. Mark of the Ninja is one such game. With brilliant sneaky action and a great degree of variety and tactics for approaching each objective, this stealth action game is a feat of excellence and  innovation that you won't often find in games as of late.

Vents are usually a good way to navigate the path ahead.

Genre: Stealth, Action
Release Date: 7th September, 2012
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360
Score: 9/10
Similar Titles: Assassin's creed, Splinter cell

Mark of the Ninja review

A rich corporation with endless amounts of mercenaries  and modern technology attacks a ninja base, catching them unawares and capturing the ninja leader. And that is when your player character awakens. A female ninja guides you to your weapons and teaches you how to use them. After saving your master it is revealed you have been inflicted with an excruciatingly painful tattoo; granting you great power to avenge your clan. Thus, your mission begins to invade the city and attack the headquarters to defeat the scoundrel who attacked your master.

Fucking lasers everywhere.

The premise behind the plot seems very cliche at first, but as you make it through a few levels it gets quite mysterious. But I'm not here to talk about the story, I'm here to talk about the stellar gameplay that bumps this game up to a well deserved 9/10 score. As a ninja you can climb up walls, hang onto almost anything and move through vents. What you will immediately notice is how easy it is to maneuver your way around troublesome terrain. Your trusty grappling hook allows you to quickly escape out of sight and gain height on your enemies. What I'm trying to say is, moving your character throughout the game is smooth and fun in itself. There's no clunky controls, you can fly to a lamppost to a wall into a vent and slide underneath a bunch of lasers in less than a second if you're good with the keyboard or gamepad.

The graphics are quite stylish, black for shadows and white for light.

Combat is essentially none existent in Mark of the Ninja, if you get spotted- you evacuate the area immediately. Enemies have automatic rifles and they will put you down in a couple of shots if you're not careful. Stealth is your only weapon. Your clan are masters of the 'perfect kill'. Therefore, it is unacceptable to assassinate a man in open combat. So your kills have to all be from stealth. This may sound like an intimidating and annoying parameter at first, but it's actually quite fun. You can distract an enemy in many ways, such as putting out the lights, making noise, or even throwing a knife at them. You can even terrify people by dumping a corpse near them. They will spray bullets everywhere, even killing their own allies.

The puzzle missions are usually trial and error if you don't put some thought into them.

Progressing through the game presents many opportunities to perform bad ass moves. You are awarded points for various acts, such as hiding a body or performing a particularly brutal kill.There are secret hidden puzzles in each level that can take a little time and thought. Each mission also has side objectives, most of which can't be completed in one playthrough. Some of them are really challenging, and I even gave up on finishing everything. However, every completed goal rewards you with a medal to spend on new weapons and upgrades.

Ora is your guide and often advises you on the path forward.

In between levels, you are allowed to spend your medals to get more powerful. Upgrades in the game come in three types: Attack, Distraction, and Technique. Attack refers to weapons that can be used to kill your opponent in useful ways, such as a spike mine to lure a soldier into. Since stealth is a necessity, you can often use your attack items to get yourself out of many sticky situations or annoying rooms full of gun toting peasants. Distraction items are seemingly less useful at first, smoke bombs and distraction flares kinda suck when you're a master ninja who doesn't need them. But as you get further into the game they get more useful. Finally, techniques are passive abilities. You can learn to kick an opponent to the ground if he spots you, or perform new assassinations.

Is that a flamethrower?

I haven't played a game this fun in a while. Once you get to grips with the basics it becomes very easy to infiltrate a room full of bad guys and take them down one by one. The developers know this, and they quickly change it up by throwing booby traps at you, or different types of enemies that are prepared for your presence. I died many times throughout the game, and yet not once did I get annoyed or want to quit. Eventually when I mastered the mechanics and finally started to get a little bored, the story had already captured me, and I was invested enough to push to the end. I was glad I did, and you will be too.

Unlockables, in all their glory.

I advise this game to anyone, it's a fantastic indie game incorporating better stealth mechanics than you usually see. Although it's 2D, you get that cool feeling that you get from performing smooth moves in games like Assassin's Creed or Metal Gear Solid. Darkness has never been more of a friend.

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