Mark of the Ninja, originally an Xbox 360 marketplace game, ported to the PC and now available on Steam, so what was it like then? My thoughts, having completed it below…

I was skeptical when I first saw this on steam, I played a Shank demo (made earlier by the same devs) and found the pc controls to be terrible and so rightly avoided. I have a personal issue with any video game that expect it’s customers to use a gamepad when they buy it for PC. My feeling is if you buy something on PC, it should work perfectly well on the PC default control method, i.e. mouse and keyboard. Nobody expects the Xbox version to require a mouse to be enjoyable to play so it makes sense to me.

Thankfully though that worry was unfounded, Klei Entertainment have set up the PC controls very well for Mark of the Ninja. Once you get used to stealth killing controls it all seems sensible and fluid. The intent of the game is to be as stealthy as possible, so while you can engage in face to face combat, it’s not recommended and you will probably die quickly. This is because you can’t use your sword once an enemy has been alerted to you, forcing you to punch for your life…a little frustrating, however it does do what it is supposed to do, another words it makes you want to avoid being seen.

The 2d point of view works really well, the graphics are similar to the developers previous games but they look very nice so that’s not a bad thing. I really like how visible areas are in colour and hidden areas in black and white. Sounds have a visual trigger so you can see the rough location of footsteps even if you can’t see the enemy making them. It all works really well.

Each mission has a selection of secret treasure to uncover, special tasks that are optional to complete and usualy a one of a kind challenge room where you are briefly removed from the current game world to solve a puzzle. The variey of skills and tools you can unlock add satisfying depth to every mission and give you a sense of pride when you pull off a particularly well timed stealth kill. I really liked hanging my enemies up in plain sight to terrorize other guards or simply pulling them through a grate to conceal your murderous intent.

The game is basically set up to stealth through, getting slightly less reward for killing enemies rather than simply passing nearby without them noticing. Personally I couldn’t resist stabbing many of the guards or setting traps for them, so my score was ok but often not quite good enough to get top marks. There is plenty of replay value in this game,  with new weapon and suit unlocks, hidden treasure  or puzzles to solve which all give bonuses to your end of mission score.  Also, after finishing the game I unlocked a “plus” mode which would make the game harder on a subsequent play through.

Between missions you are treated to some story in the form of an animated cartoon, while the story isn’t a particularly large part of the game, it does a good enough job of presenting you with narrative for why and where. For an indie game it has a really solid level of quality to it, while it’s modest in scope and will never quite “wow” you, it is a very entertaining game and well worth a purchase.