Do you know what is awesome? Mark of the Ninja is awesome. I feel bad that it’s taken me a couple of months to clear off room in my schedule to review it, because this is the sort of game that I should have been shouting about from the rooftops from day one. Well, I’m shouting now. Play this game.
I can’t decide what I like most about this game, but I think it might be the fact that it harnesses modern console power more effectively than any other 2D game I’ve ever played. It doesn’t look as extraordinary as a Vanillaware game, but more important than the game’s aesthetic appeal is the way the graphics enhance its mechanics. You can see it at work in this screen shot: A flash of lightning illuminates everything within the protagonist’s view, exposing both him and his foes, while everything out of his line of sight fades to an indistinct, desaturated blur.
Because of the minute scale of the on-screen characters, it also manages to be perhaps the first game to use Flash-style animation without making it look cheap. The in-game actors look more like super-detailed 16-bit sprites on my 23″ screen than anything else, the protagonist slipping fluidly through the world and his enemies responding in varied ways to the player’s actions.
It’s just an exquisitely designed piece of software — the kind of thing that only comes along every once in a great while. It’s $15, too. I really have to insist that you pick this one up, folks. It’s gorgeous, and that gorgeousness genuinely enhances the game. Great stuff.