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Video Game Review: Mark of the Ninja

The life of a ninja is one in the shadows; keep concealed and make sure you kill silently. Mark of the Ninja is a Stealth/Action game which features some genuinely stunningly stylistic artwork and animation. But does the game hold water when it comes to being a fun game where you go around as a ninja, or does the stealth mechanics detract from an otherwise fun action game? Join Timlah as we check out Klei Entertainment’s slash-y fun.

Donning a black shroud, the ninja is a very cunning and slippery customer. The ninja is able to sneak in and get a silent kill, all whilst you’re still distracted by the sound of something shattering nearby. Huh, wonder what caused that? They’re not only slippery and sneaky, they’re downright clever and resourceful, using a variety of weapons to a very expert level. Over the years, ninjas have grown to be feared and respected in all media they’re portrayed in. However, how do they fare on a video game that’s dedicated to them? From the makers of Don’t Starve, let’s check out Mark of the Ninja.

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Overview

Developer Klei Entertainment
Platforms PC (Windows, Mac & Linux),
Windows Release October 2012
Genre Stealth/Action
Price on Steam £10.99

 

Review

Story

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Heavily armed goons attack your clans dojo, rendering you (an unnamed ninja) unconscious. When you come to, you are met by the company of Ora, who guides you through getting your equipment back and going to save your master, Azai and other members of your clan. Upon finding Azai, the ninja is told about the power of the mysterious tattoo that is now on him, explaining how the clan had been unseen until now. You and Ora are sent on dangerous missions to get revenge on those who would do harm to your clan; but are things (and people) what they seem in this highly intriguing ninja story?

Gameplay

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You control your ninja protagonist and when you start, you’re accompanied by a female ninja called Ora who shows you the ropes. She teaches you about combat as a ninja, about trying to remain undetected and about using your various weapons. She’s effectively the in-game tutorial and she doesn’t get in your way like some do. She’s a very well thought out character who does not detract from the gameplay experience; She enhances it.

The way you are taken through the game is such a simple, easy to understand method and the controls are rather simple. Unfortunately, the controls aren’t perfect, at very least on the Linux build. I found quite often that the game didn’t always respond properly when I tried to follow a “swipe” command, which is something the game gets you to do whenever you are trying to go for the kill. It was quite frustrating, but thankfully the game itself was very forgiving, allowing you quite a long time to do it again and again. Could it be I was messing up the command? I don’t think so – Simply because the exact motion I did before would then work. Plus, it was as if the game recognised I was doing something towards the motion, as it would start the motion off. There were no instructions on how long you needed to make the swipe, if that was the issue.

You get to use a variety of mechanics and weapons, as you would expect from a stealth/action game. You get to use stealth mechanics, such as hiding behind objects and lurking in the shadows, to overcome overwhelming situations. For instance, it’s possible to hide in a dark corridor to let some guards pass you. You then use your stealth mechanics to cause a distraction, by throwing a throwing knife and making an object break or cause a sound. Guards will look around confused by the sound and will either approach it, or look for the source. You can then do silent kills, allowing you to take out individual guards, or louder kills if you don’t mind a tough encounter. If the opponents see you, there is always a chance to respond by escape or with superior combat knowledge, but the guards are quite tough, so this isn’t the safest route.

The fighting mechanics then are very easy: You left click to slash. You can also throw a throwing knife at an enemy who will not be hurt by it, but will want to know where the object came from. You can use this in interesting ways, but ultimately your goal is to get behind your opponent without them seeing you. This way, you can perform a sort of short quick-time event where you need to swipe your mouse in the direction it says to get the quick kill. Killing your opponents gives you points for a variety of reasons.

Graphics

Highly stylish with some beautiful animation, Mark of the Ninja possesses a high-quality look and feel but doesn’t scrimp on its gameplay value. The only thing I would nitpick is when doing a killing a blow and slashing downwards on your enemies neck, nothing really happens – But the opponent sort of just collapses in a heap and dies. I found the lack of “gruesome kills” a little disappointing, considering how brutally some of the kills are depicted.

Audio/Sound

The soundtrack is overwhelmingly good, fitting the theme of the destination perfectly. I couldn’t critique the soundtrack much in fairness, as it just sounded so good and fitting for the story. It tells the tale of woe and pain through the music, along with keeping an interesting mixed-pace, much like the game itself. It’s very crisp and clean, with a clear thematic style that flows through all of the tracks.

Overall

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I think the game carries itself very well, however I’m not going to sing to the skies about it. It’s not really the type of game you can sink huge amounts of hours in, but for a couple of hours, you might get some enjoyment out of it. It’s rather slow paced, which is fine in a stealth game, but because it somewhat encourages the stealthy combat element, you would expect a little bit of haste. With this said, the animation is so fluid and fun to watch, it’s quite enjoyable just to watch the specialised kills and to see how creative you can be, to see if you can make your opponents incredibly confused!

Although I’m not the biggest fan of this game, I’m certainly fond of how the game presents itself. It feels like a nice representation of a ninja game, being able to attack from the shadows and making stealthy kills. I just felt the game was a bit slow for me, but I would recommend it for people who really enjoy stealth titles. I love stealth, but I don’t think this is really the best stealth game you could get. But that’s enough from me, what do you think? Have you had the chance to play Mark of the Ninja? As always, leave your comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.

10 responses

  1. Sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    June 19, 2016 at 9:06 am

    • No worries. It’s a fun ninja game: Just a shame at how slow it is!

      Liked by 1 person

      June 19, 2016 at 9:44 am

  2. Murray

    20 hours myself in Mark of the Ninja with the majority of achievements done. Very fair review :)

    Though, with your comment on lack of “gruesome kills”, I think the game makes up for it when it comes to the brutality of *how* you end up killing someone. A scenario I (kind of morbidly overplayed if I’m honest) did once was sneak kill a guard, open the door, throw the body at the guard on a ledge, guard gets terrorised, guard stumbles back off ledge to his doom. This little snippet alone probably shows why I like this game, the combo of points means nothing to the satisfaction of well-thought out stealth whammy.

    Like

    June 19, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    • Very valid points, although I more meant visually gruesome:

      Perhaps it’s a settings issue, but when I slice at someones neck, I expect it to be damaged, if not decapitated. Now, this is truly a minor point and I dont hold it against the game. The only thing for me was the pacing of the game.

      I certainly think ALL stealth/action fans need to play this! :)

      Like

      June 19, 2016 at 1:48 pm

  3. I loved this game from beginning to end. It’s one of the better stealth games out there in my opinion.

    Like

    June 19, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    • I feel it’s a seriously under utilised scene: But for me, Thief II: The Metal Age takes it!

      Not to detract from this game, it just didnt sit with me. I even recorded me playing it… And I just had so little to say! :( Not sure if I should put the video up or not!

      Like

      June 19, 2016 at 6:43 pm

      • I don’t get what’s so good about Thief 2, but okay. To each their own :)

        Liked by 1 person

        June 19, 2016 at 6:45 pm

      • Maybe nothing but nostalgia/rose-tinted glasses? I think I’ll need to get it at some point and do a review of Thief 2, just to see if my opinions have changed. It’s been a few years!

        Liked by 1 person

        June 19, 2016 at 8:38 pm

  4. I too am a big fan of Mark of The Ninja. The campaign can be a little short but I think the way it delivers in style and tension was well worth the money. Certainly one of my favourite ninja games out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 19, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    • It’s probably the best ninja game I’ve played – But I don’t feel I’ve played many. Hidden In Plain Sight really doesn’t count as a ninja game, for instance!

      Like

      June 19, 2016 at 8:37 pm

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