Developer: Klei Entertainment
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Rating Guide: How I Review Games
To be a true ninja one must embrace the art of stealth. You have to be a silent assassin with a grace that few have seen. You have to have the Mark of the Ninja. And thanks to the Xbox Live Arcade, you can have one of the best experiences there is with being a ninja. Klei Entertainment’s Mark of the Ninja is all kinds of awesome.
Gameplay, Graphics and Sound
Mark of the Ninja is a 2D scrolling bag full of ninja. As soon as you start the game you’re treated to a beautiful story filled with the usual beauty of Klei. For those familiar with Shank, you’ll recognize the style. Once the action starts you realize that you’re in for a new experience in the Xbox Live Arcade. You are the chosen ninja with a highly powerful ink (tattoo) across your body. This ink gives you special powers and allows you to do things most other ninja can’t. There’s one drawback to this though that I won’t mention but trust me it’s a killer drawback.
Mark of the Ninja is a game about stealth and the thrill of a silent kill. It has some easy moves to learn and some tricky levels to navigate. Because the game uses shadows and the dark so well, you might get a little lost from time to time depending on the brightness setting on your TV. Luckily, the game highlights the things that you can jump onto or climb through. You can cling to walls, hide behind objects, use a grappling hook, jump, sneak and even use your ability to freeze time a bit.
And let’s not forget the use of your sword. One of the best things about Mark of the Ninja are the silent kills. When you sneak up behind a guard you can execute them with a perfect silent kill. I would’ve liked more variety in the kills but they were pretty awesome. You get treated to a cinematic death blow so to speak each time you time it right. What would’ve been best is to have the redeem system in place for new stealth kills. As it stands now, when you complete missions and objectives you earn medals that can be used for new moves/skills. It doesn’t include new stealth kills. Don’t get me wrong the new moves add quite a bit of fun to the game (like the cardboard box) but having more styles of kills would’ve been sweet.
“Weakness compels strength. Betrayal begets blood. This is the law of the Nine Clans.”
I also really enjoyed the way that you died. No there wasn’t a cool cinematic that played out. Instead, once you’re discovered you’re pretty much dead. The guards kill you quickly and I liked that. It added to the objective of the game; being a ninja. You have to embrace the fact that you’re better off being unnoticed and if you must engage, then engage silently.
The way you play through Mark of the Ninja is entirely up to you. The game rewards you in a variety of ways with XP. You can go through and try sneaking past everyone or you can see how many stealth kills you can get. Either way, you get XP. Even hiding bodies gets you more XP so don’t leave a string of bodies everywhere! As you go along gaining more points, you’ll get access to new play styles. And I’m sure plenty of you will be in heated battles for high scores. The additional modes and high score competition add to the replayability.
“Weakness compels strength. Betrayal begets blood. This is the law of the Nine Clans.” I wanted to be a bad ass ninja after hearing that line from the Ninja Assassin movie (one of my favorite ninja movies). I finally got the chance to be a bad ass ninja after playing Mark of the Ninja.
Mark of the Ninja is one of the best stealth games I’ve played. Hell it’s one of the best Xbox Live Arcade games I’ve played. The animations are beautiful as one would expect from Klei Entertainment and the gameplay is engaging enough to warrant at least a few playthroughs.