Mark of the Ninja is a side-scrolling stealth game, developed by Klei Entertainment. It was initially released on Xbox 360 in September 2012, before being released on Steam in September 2013. You play as a nameless ninja in current times.
Mark of the Ninja places a high emphasis on stealth. You are able to see how much noise your character makes by moving, or carrying out a certain action by a circular area showing so. Noise can be used against you, or to your advantage, such as creating a distraction to enemies to allow you to pass by. The game does have a combat system, but it is on the basic side. The combat is essentially a small QTE, requiring you to press the button shown on screen in order to carry out a clean kill of the enemy. You are able to use the environment against your foes too, such as cutting a chandelier to fall onto your enemies head, turning on electric wires to shock them, and many more creative ways to cull the bad guys.
Throughout the story mode, you are able to unlock extra mechanics to use, such as sliding kicks, hanging attacks or new tools to use out in the field like smoke bombs. You can upgrade these at any of the upgrade points in the game, using the talent points you have earned.
Visually, Mark of the Ninja ticks all the boxes too. Even though it is only 2D, you can see how much care and attention has gone into making this game look as good as it has. The backdrops in which you are in are gorgeous, plenty of awesome looking characters and bad guys too. Every single bit of animation looks spot on too. All of the characters move so fluidly it is almost perfection. The narrator and all other voice acting are done to an extremely high standard as well.
This game is by no means easy. You will at times find yourself almost rage quitting at how difficult certain stages are. Some points almost feel impossible until everything just clicks into place. That is what I loved the most about this game. Whilst there is an element of luck involved in a lot of situations, the main points always come from how skilfully your carry out kills, and distractions. If you practice enough, you will eventually heighten your reflexes and senses to allow you to progress. Upon completing the game, you will unlock the New Game+ mode, which is seriously one of the hardest gaming experiences you will have. Enemies become more intelligent, they will kill you in a single hit, your line of sight is limited to which ever direction you are facing and you no longer have the radius area around you to show how much noise you are making. If you want a challenge, this game mode is certainly going to be for you.
The single player story mode took me just over 18 hours to complete. This is spread out across 13 levels. Each level has three different challenges/optional objectives for you to complete such as finishing the level in a certain amount of time, finding some special loot or even something as simple as killing a certain about of enemies. This all adds to the replay ability of the levels and gives you something different to strive for. Even though I have only just started the New Game Plus mode, I can see it taking almost double the amount of time to complete due to how high the difficulty ramps up, whether it is something I see through to the end is another thing though.
Mark of the Ninja is a technically sound game as of now. I was able to play in high resolutions with all of the settings turned up. The game needs to be played with a controller though. I tried with keyboard and it just isn’t as reflex friendly compared to a joy stick sadly. Whilst there isn’t any so called multiplayer aspect to the game, you can always take part in the leader boards for each level, which is a nice little touch.
To sum up, Mark of the Ninja is a seriously must play game. In my opinion it is one of the saving graces of the Stealth genre’s recent surge in popularity. It does everything right, and you will struggle to find another stealth game that is as polished and fun to play as Mark of the Ninja