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Mark of the Ninja Remastered

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3T8rO5H6j2w

Title: Mark of the Ninja Remastered
Developer: Klei Entertainment
Publisher: Klei Entertainment
Website: https://www.klei.com/games/mark-ninja/age
Genre: Action
Platform: PS4
Audience: 16
Release Date: 08/10/2018
Price: £15.99– Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this game.

What the Developers say

In Mark of the Ninja Remastered, you’ll know what it is to truly be a ninja. You must be silent, agile & clever to outwit your opponents in a world of gorgeous scenery and flowing animation. Marked with cursed tattoos giving you heightened senses, every situation presents you with options. For the first time, play this critically acclaimed game on PlayStation™. Now beautifully updated to 4K, with a full audio remaster, & all special edition content included.

Key Features:


• True Stealth Experience: Player-centric gameplay rewards choice, be it finishing the game without killing anyone or assassinating all who stand in your way.
• Special Edition DLC Included: Dosan’s Tale adds a new character, level, items, and Dev commentary.
• Stunning Visuals: Unique 2D visual style featuring award-winning animation & hand-painted environments lovingly remastered in 4k.
• New full 5.1 surround mix & remastered audio.
• New Game+: Finish the game & unlock this mode, offering new challenges & rewards.

Introduction

Mark of the Ninja was originally released back on Xbox Arcade in 2012 and, despite being critically acclaimed, Klei Entertainment’s indie starlet just snuck by me. When the 2D stealth platformer was announced in March of 2018, it placed high on the list of games that I wanted to play.

The story begins with the silent protagonist waking from a deep slumber, only to realise that his sensei has been captured by a heavily armed and dangerous organisation known as ‘Hessian’. The player is then tasked with the job of rescuing the sensei and enacting revenge on those who have threatened his clan. Though this storyline feels somewhat clichéd amongst the current wealth of thought-provoking indie games, clever design and strong stealth mechanics will ensure your attention is held throughout.

Looks and Sounds

Mark of the Ninja’s visual style is akin to a Saturday morning cartoon – imagine Cartoon Network’s ‘Samurai Jack’ meets ninjas and you’ll be pretty close. Black is the primary colour of choice, and you will see plenty of it during the story, as every mission takes place at night. Black is also used proactively to signify stealth; when your character is engulfed in darkness, it represents that you are invisible from your foes and thus free to continue your silent assault.

A purposefully minimalist approach to sound design allows the player to focus entirely on stealth and emphasises the importance of sneaking through each mission undetected. Audio cues of enemies hearing footsteps or a shot from your grappling hook stand out against the environmental hum, and are accompanied by the welcome use of a sound bubble.

As you move through each mission, the sound bubble pulsates around your character. Move too quickly, and the bubble grows, indicating your presence – and imminent detection – to nearby enemies.

Mark of the Ninja also manipulates the environment to great effect. As you progress into later missions, a variety of weather conditions challenges your approach tactics and escalates the difficulty. A crack of lightning will make you appear suddenly to your enemies, whereas levels taking place within a sandstorm will limit your field of vision.

Gameplay and Replayability

Throughout the story, Mark of the Ninja encourages you to take the silent approach and rewards you for creativity. Once you grasp the controls and consider your advance, you’ll move with ease throughout each mission, stalking your prey to unleash a devastating but straightforward execution move. Execute this correctly, and your foe will go down in silence; enter the commands incorrectly, and nearby enemies may be alerted to your presence.

As you progress through each mission, your arsenal of tools continues to grow. By introducing each new mechanic individually, players can try out different items and find a collection that suits their play-style without ever being overwhelmed. Utilising grappling hooks, noisemakers, smoke bombs and other tools makes you genuinely feel like a well-trained ninja who is equipped to take on any challenge.

As previously mentioned, Mark of the Ninja rewards you for taking the stealthy approach, and a score-based system grades each mission. You build up points through a range of actions, from sneaking past enemies undetected to hiding bodies, committing the perfect stealth kill or completing level-based objectives.

A skill-tree offers a variety of techniques and upgrades to unlock, and progress through this is wholly dependent on how successful you are during each mission. A rating of one to three scores each level and you are rewarded with the subsequent amount of skill points.

Even though the main story can be completed in roughly eight hours, Mark of the Ninja offers plenty in the way of replayability. Alongside level rankings, players can choose to pursue and complete three unique challenges for each mission.

These challenges are varied and range from rescuing captured ninjas to sneaking through part of a mission while remaining undetected. The promise of additional skill points encourages you to replay missions in order to continue upgrading your character and arsenal. You are also able to select an outfit for each mission, and each one can vary up your play-style drastically.

Choosing the ‘Path of Silence’, for example, allows you to carry additional items and make no noise when you run, but at the cost of losing your sword. This is a fantastic addition to the game as it gives the player a wide variety of options when approaching each mission.

Scrolls are the only collectables in the game, and it is worthwhile tracking them down. When found, they offer details on the history of your clan and give much-needed background to the story. Collectables can also be located in challenge rooms where your skills will be put to the ultimate test by completing complex puzzles.

Concerning difficulty, Mark of the Ninja continually ramps up as you make your way through the game. New enemy types are introduced, and deadly traps plague the terrain. Upon completion, New Game Plus offers to increase the difficulty, allowing players to keep all of their gear and upgrades while boosting the challenge from enemies and eliminating the life-saving sound bubble.

For those wanting a little extra, Mark of the Ninja Remastered also comes packaged with the DLC, ‘Dosan’s Tale’. This includes one new map, one costume and two usable items that can also be used in the main game once you have completed the DLC level.

Conclusion

Mark of the Ninja Remastered is a stellar 2D stealth platformer. The smart yet straightforward approach to sound design directs the focus entirely on quiet and considered movement through each mission, allowing players to dispatch their foes at will.

While the clichéd storyline leaves much to be desired, the steady introduction of new mechanics will hold your attention through a wide range of play-styles and ever-increasing challenge. There is so much to do and unlock that Mark of the Ninja Remastered can keep you occupied well beyond the eight hours it will take to complete the main story. For fans of the stealth genre, it would be a shame to let this one sneak by.

Rapid Reviews UK Rating

4 out of 5

You can purchase Mark of the Ninja: Remastered on the PlayStation Store at the following link, https://store.playstation.com/en-gb/product/EP2107-CUSA13340_00-MARKOFTHENINJARE

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