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Mark of the Ninja Review

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Big things come in small packages, at least that’s how the saying goes. It seems to ring true with Klei Entertainment. For a company with only 8 published games and nearly eight years in existence it’s pretty impressive when they sneak in a quality game such as this. If stealthy assassination action tickles your kunai then look no further than Mark of the Ninja.

At the start of the game you awaken to find your clan under attack by a hostile group of mercenary thugs. Your master, Azai, has chosen you to be the clans champion. You shall take on the markings of the ninja, tattoos in special shapes made using special ink that grant supernatural abilities to its wearer at extreme cost. It’s up to you to save your clan, and unravel the mysteries that lie within the Mark of the Ninja.

Visuals

Mark of the Ninja takes its visual style from one of Klei studios previous games, Shank, and improves on it to suit the stealth genre phenomenally. With a 2D stealth platformer it’s easy to get confused with whether you’re hidden or visable. Mark of the Ninja executes this aspect perfectly by basically inverting your characters colors when you’re hidden so there’s no mistaking whether you’re in or out of sight. Colors flow beautifully and stealth kill animations are as gorgeous as violently murdering someone can be.

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Sound

The sound in Mark of the Ninja is as subtle as you are. If you run around getting seen by every guard, dog, or sentry then you’ll be constantly listening to high tension music, radio transmissions alerting other guards and dogs trying to rip your throat out. Or you could sneak around your enemies and hide in the shadows and so will most of the musical scores of this game. Sound is very well executed here and spots that make one think “hmm this music doesn’t really fit here.” are scarce.

Gameplay

Now we’re getting to the real meat of the subject. Mark of the Ninja executes its playstyle fantastically. Each level provides a multitude of unique ways to accomplish your mission. For example if you need a key to get through a door that requires you obtaining it from a guard. You can either kill him or if you’re a true ninja, you’ll do your best to find a way to gain entry without being detected. After all, any good ninja is a great thief.

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Each level has multiple objectives, each one is revealed to you upon completion of the previous one. Moreover there are three “Ninja seals” that you can get by completing the required sub-objectives, I.E. Kill 5 Guards using traps, or Retrieve the key without being noticed. Getting these seals will in return unlock different Ninja suits that grant a bonus to a certain type of play style. There is a suit that puts emphasis on stealth, all the way to an all out assault on your enemies.

In addition to ninja seals, each level has three ancient scrolls of your clan. Each one tells a small part of a story of a great ninja from long ago. These scrolls are hidden through the levels in places not normally along your path, and some are even harder to obtain since they require beating a challenge puzzle level upon finding their location.

I did find myself making a lot of mistakes at the beginning of my playthrough, such as jumping down into the view of a guard when I wanted to grab hold of the ceiling and crawl across instead. You use the spacebar for almost every action requiring movement so it’s quite easy to make a mistake if you don’t have the correct directional button pressed. As for flaws, that’s the only problem I had the entire time my first time through. Even then once I finally figured out that I just wasn’t pressing the directional keys the correct way I stopped having issues.

Conclusion

All in all, Mark of the Ninja is a breath of fresh air in a time where stealthy ninja games are a rare gem indeed. Especially great ones such as this one. It has high replayability due to the various methods of gameplay that are encouraged and that, coupled with the new game plus that gets unlocked after your first completion makes this game something you’ll enjoy replaying again and again. Which to be honest, might not take you too long to do. Because where it’s true that it’s a great game and it’s hard to put down, beating it with 60% of the achievements on steam in 10 hours seems a bit short in this reviewers opinion. Regardless, I still have my new game plus to beat. I’m gonna go cut some bitches.

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