โพสต์: 28 มกราคม
With all 38 achievements nestled away like presents beneath a Christmas tree, I’m feeling pretty good. There’s no time to waste; let’s have at it.
I – Story [10/10]
Mark of the Ninja is a stealth platformer from the brilliance that is Klei Entertainment. After an attack on the Hisomu clan dojo, you (the player) are sent on a mission of revenge by your sensei, Master Azai. You are given the Mark, an extensive irezumi tattoo made with toxic ink that grants you heightened senses, incredible powers, and (ultimately) drives you into madness. Ninja’s who receive the Mark agree to commit seppuku once their mission is complete so that they cannot harm the clan in a state of insanity.
Spoiler alert from here on out. During the course of your mission, you realize that you have been betrayed by Azai, who is corrupting the clan with high-tech equipment after he had failed to protect the flowers that produce the toxic ink required to create the Mark. At this point, the revenge train does a complete u-turn and you are hellbent on getting Azai. Reaching the final level, the game has two possible endings.
One ending is to kill your companion, Ora (who is actually just a figment of your imagination, brought on by the ink from the Mark). Killing Ora leads to a cut-scene in which the player commits suicide by disembowelment. Ora fades into nothingness and you lay dying in the courtyard with Azai.
The other ending occurs when you choose to kill Azai. Once you’ve made your selection in favor of Azai, another cut-scene plays in which the player becomes the insane tyrant of Hisumo legend. Either ending is equally cool and the events of the story have no reflection on your ending choice.
That being said, certain parts of the story were a bit predictable, but that didn’t take away from the narrative as a whole.
II – UI [9/10]
The user interface was easy to pick up and run with. No need for mastery of complex controls or excruciatingly long combo moves. The lack of a mini-map didn’t actually bother me, which is a rare thing when it comes to platformers. The map found in the menus was every bit as helpful as a mini-map would have been and it was never in the corner of my screen blocking my view of the environment.
Aiming with certain tools could become a bit frustrating at times. Often, I found myself in a tight spot where I couldn’t maneuver well enough to hit what I needed to hit to remain not dead. Aside from this, the game handled perfectly.
III – Gameplay [10/10]
Mark of the Ninja is, without a doubt, one of the best platformers I have played in years. The stealth aspect of the game was incredibly well implemented. While certain features differed from the normal mode of play and new game plus, there was never a wrench thrown into the stealth systems works. Enemy fields of view were clearly displayed (only in normal mode, however) and it was easy to see how much noise any given action was about to create. There were ample hiding spots and routes to take throughout each level, ensuring that there was often more than one way to do things, but that the player was always being challenged.
Combat was balanced and could be rather punishing if you went in unprepared or failed with your stealthy approach. Any inability to think quickly on the player’s part could quickly turn into a bad situation. But, with proper timing and planning, almost every combative situation could be taken care of in a silent manner. Quick, clean, and precise.
Optional objectives in each mission kept things from getting tiresome as well. Some mission you may need to replay to earn them all, but there is never a dull moment. Most levels also featured a puzzle room in which the player would have to figure out how to get to the scroll hidden inside.
On top of all this, the game was even longer than I had originally anticipated. I got through my first playthrough in about ten hours, with the subsequent playthrough (and DLC mission) taking me just around 14 hours.
IV – Content [10/10]
Content-wise, MotN very much delivered. While you were only given one sword, you’ll never need an upgrade. The focus of the in-game upgrade system lies entirely with your skill tree and your ninja tools.
In your skill tree, you have three areas to work with. The first of these is “Techniques”. This branch focuses on the character, increasing your repertoire of stealth executions and physical abilities. The second branch is “Distraction Items”. These are the items that the player can use to take attention off of themselves and manipulate enemies into looking the other way. The third and final branch is “Attack Items”. As you might have guessed, these are the items you’ll be using to annihilate any who cross your path and, in general, sew massive amounts of chaos.
In addition to the upgrade system, the player can unlock a variety of “Styles” with which to play. Each Style has a different title (I.E. Path of the Hunter, Path of Silence, etc.). The majority of these must be unlocked by completing a sufficient amount of optional objectives throughout the levels, though some are unlocked just by playing through the game. The DLC also gives you an addition Style called the Path of Wisdom.
All in all, there is more than enough content to keep you occupied for several playthroughs and then some.
V – Visuals [10/10]
As I am sure you are all aware by now, I am a total sucker for hand-drawn artwork in games. Mark of the Ninja is no exception to that rule. The visuals are fantastic; both the environment and the characters. The stealth execution animations are better than most, even in games with a lot higher pay grades than this one. Klei truly outdid themselves this time.
VI – Audio [10/10]
Once again, just like the graphics, the music and sounds of MotN were simply spectacular. The music boosted immersion ten fold whenever it graced us with its presence. The sound of a guard struggling to breathe because a sword was lodged in his face almost brought a tear to my eye. What can I say? Sometimes I get a little sentimental. Not only this, but it seemed like the death rattles and bloody gurgles just melded with everything else into a dark, dark ambiance.
VII – Overall [9.8/10]
Overall, I think this rating speaks for itself. I might have gotten this title during the Steam Holiday Sale, but I wouldn’t hesitate to shell out the full price tag. I have no doubts that this will be the best platformer of it’s kind that I play in months. Probably the best stealth game as well.