You play as a tattooed ninja warrior whose story unfolds as you progress through the game. The mature, comic book style animation is pleasantly detailed, and the cut scenes look amazing. You’ll quickly notice how the game uses its beautiful 2D world to provide various areas of cover for your ninja, like large pots, dark doorways, empty dumpsters and more. When you approach an item that can be used as cover, you’re prompted on screen, and with a simple press of a button and you can slip out of sight. Watching your ninja hide in an empty doorway as a patrolling guard walks by, or grappling to the ceiling to hang above a victim before taking them out can be interestingly addicting. Not all of the game is played in stealth, however, as there is a bit of hand to hand combat. Though stealth is absolutely encouraged. Once you start to recognize what items can be used as cover, you can plan your actions accordingly, giving you a sense of control and freedom not always found in a 2D side scrolling world. Many times your path to the end of a level could be one of many, and it’s very rewarding when you feel like you’ve found the best one, like a true ninja.
Because this game is sold exclusively through the Xbox Live Arcade, players are able to keep track of their points and achievements, and compare them to other players online. The more ninja-like you are, the higher your score. Kill all of the guards, good work, you’ll get points. Kill all of the guards but go undetected, better, you’ll get more points. Points can be used to upgrade your character and acquire more distraction items or weapons. Mark of the Ninja, awards players in multiple areas all focused on the way of the ninja.
The developers at Klei Entertainment, did a fantastic job with Mark of the Ninja. The best part of the game is it’s stunning visuals and smooth controls. Kill animations can get a bit repetitive, but after several hours of challenging gameplay, I was ready to start from the beginning as a more experienced ninja and better my original score, not to mention use the newly acquired skills that I had picked up along the way. If you’re a puzzle gamer, action gamer, or stealth gamer, come get your fix, Mark of the Ninja.
Final Score: Mark of Ninja gets a 8 out of 10