Mark of the Ninja Review
Klei Entertainment’s latest game gives the stealth genre a much-needed wake-up call.
For a game that never really sets out to tell an amazing story, Mark of the Ninja at least does a serviceable job keeping the player invested in ongoing events. You are a ninja trainee, though you're hardly inexperienced, more like a senior in ninja high school. After an evil corporation attacks your dojo, it's up to you to track down the men responsible, and shove your blade into places they'd rather you didn't. To accomplish this, you've been given the titular "mark," a tattoo that makes you extra powerful, but also drives you insane and will force you to commit suicide at some point. Sorry.
We'd guess that roughly half of the spoken dialogue is tutorial in some way, so these lines are fairly basic and explanatory by nature. The remaining script goes to a cast of cliched ninja-folk or soldier-type bad guys. Writing should therefore be considered a bit generic, but thankfully it's not lousy enough to detract from the greater experience. Not by a mile.
Plot & Player Choices
The whole "mark" aspect of the storyline is a little bit cool, but frankly the narrative takes a backseat to gameplay. That's fine in a game of this type, our only wish is that some of the great ideas found close to the ending sequence were fleshed out a bit. That sequence is also the only place you'll find player choice, and we wish this had been expanded a bit too.
Cutscenes use cartoon animation just like most of Klei's work, however many of the scenes are short or simply feature two or three characters speaking to one another. We felt the development team's animation talent was underused for this game, and would've like to see some extra ninja badassery to reward our cleared levels. It should also be noted that the more serious narrative (compared to Shank at least) clashes with the "Saturday morning" visuals, and we can't help but think a darker style would've been more evocative for this darker game.
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