Review: Mark of the Ninja – Xbox Live Arcade

A ninja is powerful yet fragile. Quick but deliberate. Mark of the Ninja is a stealth platformer that puts you in control of a Ninja who’s clan is in danger of extinction. Observe your enemies from the darkness, manipulate them with simple yet versatile tools, and experience what it is to be a Ninja. From the award-winning studio that brought you Shank, Mark of the Ninja is a game about finesse, manipulation, and sacrifice.

Mark of the Ninja is a completely fresh gaming experience, a 2D stealth action platformer unlike anything else . The basics are simple, remain shrouded in darkness and become invisible to your enemies. The main objective of the game is be remain unseen, stay out the light and avoid making noise as to avoid detection. Of course this is all accomplished using your stealthy ninja skills, while clinging to walls and ceilings, hiding in air vents or crawl spaces, ducking in door ways or behind various objects and swinging around using your grapple hook.

While in stealth if you sneak up on an unsuspecting foe you’ll be rewarded with an especially graphic and violent cut scene of you executing your mark. Deliver a silent kill and earn extra XP, hide the body and earn more. Being a true stealth game sneaking past your enemies without killing them offers even more rewards and is an acceptable play style. Starting the game with only a basic set of moves, executions, and distraction items you earn medals that you can then use to purchase new unlocks. New items and techniques open up new options for dealing with your foes, early in the game you can only peak through grates but after a couple levels you unlock the ability to do executions from these hiding places.

The animation and graphics in Mark of the Ninja is beautiful, you’ll often forget you’re playing a video game and think you’re watching an R-Rated anime. The unique art style and world is stunning and sets it apart from everything else out there. The cut scenes are beautifully animated and flow seamlessly between the stages. The execution animations are graphically intense making those stealth kills especially rewarding.

While not the longest game, Mark of the Ninja does have a lot of replay-ability. Earning all the unlocks and completing side challenges will have you coming back for more. A new game plus mode will also add extra challenge to the campaign while letting you keep all your upgrades and unlocks right from the get go.

While the story isn’t amazing and some stages in the later half of the game can be platforming nightmares this isn’t enough to tarnish an amazing and unique experience. Mark of the Ninja is easily one of the best games I’ve experienced this year. For those of you worried about creativity in games disappearing worry not and look for amazing indie gems like Mark of the Ninja to carry the flame of creativity and innovation.

SCORE: 9 / 10

Mark of the Ninja
Published by: Microsoft
Developed by: Klei
Genre: Stealth Platformer
Release Date: September 7, 2012
System: Xbox Live Arcade
MSRP: 1200 MS Points
Rated: M for Mature

By Ricardo “Rico” Ferreira