The story is a bit cliche – your clan was attacked and you are chosen to carry out divine retribution or something along that line. After the tutorial, you are sent to infiltrate the headquarters of your enemy that resembles Shredder’s building from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This game actually allows you to play through it without killing anyone and has the fluidity to make you actually feel like a ninja!
The controls are very responsive and actions are quick and fluid. You can chain multiple grappling hooks to sail above your enemies’ heads and take out some lights mid-flight to distract the guards. The tutorial stage goes a good job of conveying what it expects you to do (distract and kill guards) but it wasn’t until after I completed that stage and the point window came up that I noticed there was an option to not kill anyone! After that, I decided to stealth through the game as much as possible while resisting the urge to kill which is quite difficult sometimes.
All kills are of course assassinations from the back or environmental. When you get close enough to hit the attack button, you will be given a direction + attack button to perform the kill. If you do it correctly, you get a perfect silent kill. Butcher it, and you get reduced points but more importantly it generates noise which you do not want. The kill animations themselves are swift and brutal but overall lacks the finesse I would expect of a ninja. The biggest flaw I feel is that if you are ever seen by the guards, you can’t just run up and kill them before they alert others. The alert is instantaneous and if you run up to kill them, you only perform a 3-hit combo which knocks them back a little and stuns them while you have to run. However, the stun is extremely short and they can just shoot you. Might as well just kill yourself the moment you are seen because you have brought shame upon your family.
By default, you move at a walking pace so to prevent detection. Running generates sound every other step and there is an area of effect that appears which could alert nearby guards. Getting detected not only deducts points but you must also remain in hiding for 10 seconds until the heat wears off. There are also seals (objectives) for each level that you can complete which serves as currency to purchase upgrades. As you can imagine, they usually encourage stealth and speed so be sure to check what they are before starting a level.
The art style of the characters reminds me the show Samurai Jack. Solid blocks of color and easy to distinguish things at a glance. The background is truly fantastic and gives off a feel of feudal Japan in some areas and Neo-Japan in others (multiple temples and shrines amidst a city. What.). Gives off a cartoon-y feel but doesn’t change the fact that you can slice through a soldier in full armor without missing a beat. However, I feel the overall style just wasn’t fitting (at least for me) so I lost interest very quickly. The kill animations are cool in concept but poorly executed and the blood is just a big glob.
- Difficulty: N/A (It is quite forgiving with checkpoints but I got bored by the second stage so can’t say)
- Gameplay Score: 3/5 (Stealthy or murder, your choice)
- Graphics Score: 2/5 (The background is superb, but the foreground is lacking. It’s also a bit hard to see things with all the black for shadows)
- Music: *Shrug*/5 (There isn’t exactly music…more just ambient noise. It is a stealth game after all)
Mechanically, this game seems sound, but I also was playing with a faulty controller where the right bumper wouldn’t register half the time which I needed for the hook shot so that really killed the momentum in a lot of areas. I played through the first two levels before calling it quits but once I get a new controller, I’ll probably give it another shot. Still not a fan of the art style though.
See you next game! -DecoyEC has logged off.