Now this is why I own an Xbox 360.
Ever since I finally got my hands on my very own Xbox 360, I’ve been obsessed with the XBLA. I’ve spent hours and hours on just the games this year made available for it. Trials: Evolution and Spelunky have captivated me to no end. Then, just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Mark of the Ninja arrives in my lap. A game that solidifies my ideas that Downloadable games may be the future of this quaint world we live in.
Mark of the Ninja is the newest game from Klei Entertainment of Shank fame. However, unlike Shank, Mark of the Ninja is a stealth action game, rather than a hack and slash, kill everything-fest. And what a comprehensive stealth game it is. It smashes notions of what immersion is, and certain takes the stealth genre and puts it on it’s head.
I would be pretty pissed to if some hyper-militant group invaded my home and murdered and kidnapped just about my entire clan. This is the storyline players will get to take part in. You are on a revenge mission, using the power of the ink, and your super awesome ninja skills, you will find and murder the man behind it all.
Mark of the Ninja offers players literally everything players need to feel like a ninja, just short of the costume and katana. It may be in the style of a 2D platformer, but you only will see through the eyes of the ninja himself. Perching yourself in ways that allow you to assess a room, then make decisions about how to clear the room are a common occurrence in this stellar downloadable title.
The black heavy aesthetic is actually very visually appealing. The shadows are your friend. Navigating air vents, and staying quiet are the keys to success. In fact, Mark of the Ninja makes that easier than it sounds. You have the power to literally see sound around you. This allows you to detect exactly where enemies are, and how far you must land from an enemy to remain undetected.
Using the tools available to you, you will take out lights, short circuit electrical panels, and more to make navigating easier. You will choose to either take out (in super awesome kills), or sneak past enemies. Doing either increases your point count, which in this game, is very satisfying to increase. By being the best ninja you could be, you will earn high ranks on each level, which earns you upgrade medals.
Upgrading between levels will earn you new kill tactics, if you are a brute force type of player. Or it will upgrade your equipment, such as smoke bombs, if you prefer a stealthier approach. Unlockable even is a mode where you can only sneak past enemies, but your footsteps make no noise. Upgrading to fit your playstyle is part of the fun of this game. Then you take all of that to the New Game Plus, while continuing to increase your ninja-rific power, gives the game more depth.
My favorite part, however, is how there is no real set way to beat any level. There are literally dozens of paths you can take, and special, point increasing collectibles that are usually hidden on levels. I can enter a room and take out each enemy with a well timed drop and stealth kill, or by luring them both under a chandelier and dropping it directly onto their heads, and when the attack dog hears it and runs over, you put him out from behind, while his sense of smell is down.
Mark of the Ninja has incredible replay value. Not only does each level have several benchmarks that are difficult to complete on the first run, it has score thresholds that unlock more medals, and not to mention achievements. And what is a stealth game where you can’t test yourself by beating levels without killing any enemies (unless scripted ones of course). Mark of the Ninja offers hours of fun for players with this.
I don’t know how much else to say it. Mark of the Ninja may be the new reigning champ in a year that has seen an abundance of absolutely outstanding downloadable games. The stealth is so precise, fun, and downright immersive. Going all ninja over your enemies has never felt so great, and I’m surprised to see a game by Klei actually making new genre benchmarks, rather than games that just abide by those benchmarks. With many enemies slain, many smoke bombs thrown, and many shadows conversed, I really only have one thing to say: super awesome.ore
You can learn more about the game, or purchase it, by clicking here.