Game Review: Mark of the Ninja
Release: September 7, 2012
Developer: Klei Entertainment
Available Platforms: Xbox Live Arcade
ESRB Rating: M for Mature
Mark of the Ninja is the next game by developer Klei Entertainment, who you might know as the developers of Shank and Shank 2, the sword slashing games from the last couple of years. The game features the same distinctive art style and fluid controls that the developer is known for and it utilizes this to make Mark of the Ninja possibly one of the best Xbox Live Arcade games to release this year.
Story is a weak point in Mark of the Ninja. While you don’t get too invested into your characters, you easily get hooked on the cause and the mission that you have in front of you. Ultimately that doesn’t really keep you gripped enough to really focus on the story as you make your way between levels.
While starting Mark of the Ninja, the first few levels do a really great job of easing you into the gameplay and the game slowly starts to prepare you for the increase in difficulty as you make your way further through the game. I greatly enjoyed the first half of the 7-8 hour experience, just up until the point when new enemies start getting introduced and taking people out isn’t as simple as creeping out of a nearby vent and pulling them in.
Typically, this would get frustrating, but Mark of the Ninja does a really great job at offering multiple ways to get through each level, whether it be climbing across the rain-soaked rooftops or crawling through the gas-filled underground tunnels, you’ll eventually find your way through. The other strong point of the game is that you can complete each level without even paying attention to the bad guys. While this is excruciatingly difficult at times, it makes progressing a lot easier later on, especially with some of the tougher enemies.
The thrill of slicing up bad guys eventually loses it’s novelty and with a very limited amount of animations, you’ll find yourself more focused on trying to weave a perfect path through the level, picking up all of the many collectables to upgrade your Ninja without causing too much of a hubbub. Progressing from level to level isn’t too noticeable apart from a well animated cutscene as most of the levels look pretty much the same, whether it be a castle or just one of the many towers, you’ll still be climbing up wooden balconies or hopping from well placed ledge to well placed light fixture.
I thoroughly enjoyed playing Mark of the Ninja. While the drab levels and uninteresting story bring down the experience, the additive gameplay and the slow increase in difficulty make your Ninja skills sharper than ever.
Watch your back as this game could sneak it’s way into the top spot for best arcade game this year. I recommend you give it a shot to find out for yourself.
+ You get to be a ninja, a freakin ninja!
+ Pulling guys through vents onto your sword has never looked so brilliant
+ Levels increase in difficulty at the perfect pace
- Story isn’t too interesting, but frequent enough for you to know what your mission is
Score: 9 out of 10