September 12, 2012

The Silent Darkness

Lasting First Impressions of Mark of the Ninja

Developed by Klei Entertainment  |  Published by Microsoft Studios

markoftheninja_box_art» Mark of the Ninja from Klei Entertainment seemed to come out of nowhere. I don’t recall hearing anything about it until it arrived on the Xbox Marketplace late last week.  Some of their previous outings on the platform include the wonderful Ninja platformer N+, the popular Shank series, and the cute and adorable Eets.  This new entry in their lineup seems to be a return to their roots of N+ but with much more Ninja stealth action and full story than a general platformer.

If you want to feel like a ninja (and who doesn’t really), Mark of the Ninja is the game for you.  Employing the tried and true minimalistic colour schemes found in several titles these days (Limbo, Deadlight), Mark of the Ninja does a fantastic job of ensuring you know you’re in darkness, which is where you want to be. When the light of a guard’s flashlight or an overhead lamp illuminates you, you are emblazened in full colour and vulnerable to detection.  When you are shrouded in darkness, you are a deadly shadow.

MOTN 2Mark of the Ninja is an impressive XBLA game and easily one of the best this year. The level designs and challenges really make you think about your next move carefully before executing it.  Patience will be the key to success here so those of you who love a good stealth game will love playing the Ninja in this game.  Be prepared to fail many attempts, though, as you study the guards’ movements and experiment your different available options, from silently smashing the light fixtures, to throwing small explosives to attract the attention of the enemies away from you.  An arsenal of objects are available throughout the course of the game to aid you in your silent travels.

The artwork in Mark of the Ninja is that of a quality animated cartoon and is quite impressive.  It seems to be more than just cell-shading like what we find in games like Borderlands; instead it felt like I was truly playing a cartoon.


Having known nothing about this game before it released, I was truly surprised at the quality of not only the artwork and animation, but of the gameplay itself. The controls are easy to grasp and understand and the game eases the player into more and more options as the story progresses.  Every chapter has specific goals to achieve to obtain the perfect score and there are several collectibles to find throughout.  Replay value is inherent in Mark of the Ninja and it’s the kind of game I’d be happy to play over and over again. Even after a multitude of attempts at clearing one area, I never felt frustrated. Instead, it gave me more determination to discover the best approach to get to my destination without failing the optional objectives such as “reach the roof without being detected.”

Mark of the Ninja is smart, challenging, and, most importantly, quite fun to play.

Klei Entertainment, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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