On Mark of the Ninja and Dismissing Stealth's Nuances

Full transparency, only played the first two and a half stages of Mark of the Ninja thus far (just shy of an hour) but...I just don't see it. Yes, it controls well and has that quality animation Klei does oh so well but the narrative thus far is extremely thin and I just don't feel compelled to keep playing.The gameplay is extremely derivative of Splinter Cell Convicion and Arkham Asylum. Yes, those systems have been translated successfully to 2D, but it just isn't entertaining enough on its own to keep me invested.

Now, I mainly tried this out due to the seemingly (and now, in my mind, confirmed) hyperbolic praise given it by Brad and Patrick and I feel the disdain expressed towards 3D stealth games is pretty damn dismissive. See, Metal Gear Solid at least gives you a carrot on the end of that stick to keep you playing, its called a narrative. Its called characters. Writing, ya dig? Yes, this Ninja game is less clunky in a pure mechanical sense but it also has a bit of a soulless vibe to it, if I may be so bold. There is nothing here beyond the base mechanics. Brad even says he wouldn't mind if it was stick figures, its the mechanics of the gameplay that make this fun to those not looking for anything more. Now, if you want to go ahead and compare this to mechanically focused games like a Super Meat Boy or a Pac-Man Championship Edition or N+, go ahead. But to dismiss an entire genre's merits in terms of marrying narrative with gameplay and questioning the use of violence in mechanical ways by giving you compelling reasons NOT to kill people (an avenue this game doesn't really cater to what with its emphasis on violent animations and lack of rewards for avoiding enemies), as well as inventing several of the systems this game incorporates just seems gross to me. Credit where credit is due. This game is less ambitious in every sense, yet it receives unapologetic praise in spite of those other games. Yet another illustration of the prioritization of the most basic aspects of game design over the loftier ambitions Giant Bomb, and game media at large, seems to favor.

48 Comments
49 Comments
Posted by Kraznor

Full transparency, only played the first two and a half stages of Mark of the Ninja thus far (just shy of an hour) but...I just don't see it. Yes, it controls well and has that quality animation Klei does oh so well but the narrative thus far is extremely thin and I just don't feel compelled to keep playing.The gameplay is extremely derivative of Splinter Cell Convicion and Arkham Asylum. Yes, those systems have been translated successfully to 2D, but it just isn't entertaining enough on its own to keep me invested.

Now, I mainly tried this out due to the seemingly (and now, in my mind, confirmed) hyperbolic praise given it by Brad and Patrick and I feel the disdain expressed towards 3D stealth games is pretty damn dismissive. See, Metal Gear Solid at least gives you a carrot on the end of that stick to keep you playing, its called a narrative. Its called characters. Writing, ya dig? Yes, this Ninja game is less clunky in a pure mechanical sense but it also has a bit of a soulless vibe to it, if I may be so bold. There is nothing here beyond the base mechanics. Brad even says he wouldn't mind if it was stick figures, its the mechanics of the gameplay that make this fun to those not looking for anything more. Now, if you want to go ahead and compare this to mechanically focused games like a Super Meat Boy or a Pac-Man Championship Edition or N+, go ahead. But to dismiss an entire genre's merits in terms of marrying narrative with gameplay and questioning the use of violence in mechanical ways by giving you compelling reasons NOT to kill people (an avenue this game doesn't really cater to what with its emphasis on violent animations and lack of rewards for avoiding enemies), as well as inventing several of the systems this game incorporates just seems gross to me. Credit where credit is due. This game is less ambitious in every sense, yet it receives unapologetic praise in spite of those other games. Yet another illustration of the prioritization of the most basic aspects of game design over the loftier ambitions Giant Bomb, and game media at large, seems to favor.

Posted by jsnyder82

I can't wait until about 40 posts in, when the game finally clicks with you, and you completely re-edit your post to say how much you're now enjoying it.

Posted by SASnake

Everyone's a reviewer these days.

Posted by kgb0515

Meh...I really enjoyed it. Sometimes I crave mindless mechanics, and most of my favorite games of all time are 2D side scrollers. Sometimes it's about enjoyment and not a show of technical ambition. MGS became unplayable for me after 3 with the length of the cut scenes, so maybe I just don't need such a big carrot to be dangled in front of me.

Posted by probablytuna

I just played through the first two levels and I'm quite hooked on the gameplay. While I don't agree with what Patrick, Jeff and Brad say on the notion that stealth games prior to Mark of the Ninja and Dishonored have sucked ass, I certainly don't feel like the praise for Mark of the Ninja is unwarranted.

Posted by Phatmac

Mark of the ninja is a fantastic game. I'm no stealth expert but I really enjoined this game.

Posted by MariachiMacabre

It's a brilliant game. No hyperbole. It's just flat out excellent.

Posted by Hunter5024

I don't see what's wrong with saying great core mechanics, awesome level design, sweet animation, and some inventive visual cues are enough to make a game awesome. Your main gripe with this game seems to be that it doesn't quite compare to all of those big budget stealth games, but that's hardly fair.

Posted by phanboy4

There are a lot of people that look for and enjoy mechanics first, and narrative carrotsticking second (or third or fourth). Most of us are from the days of gaming where that's all there was.

I understand that many people love stories and narratives and characters first and foremost in video games, but some of us don't. To each his own. There's plenty out there for both sides.

That being said, MotN isn't anywhere near as good as Thief, but it plays better and I enjoy it more than any stealth game I've played since the Riddick games, and that goes for MGS as well. I wouldn't put MGS and MoTN in the same category anyway.

Posted by hughesman

I will agree with you that they are overly dismissive of other 3D stealth games. I've yet to hear Patrick explain what makes the stealth in dishonored so different from other games in the genre.

Edited by believer258

@phanboy4 said:

There are a lot of people that look for and enjoy mechanics first, and narrative carrotsticking second (or third or fourth). Most of us are from the days of gaming where that's all there was.

I understand that many people love stories and narratives and characters first and foremost in video games, but some of us don't. To each his own. There's plenty out there for both sides.

You said what I was going to say.

I enjoy a good narrative and a good narrative can make me trudge through merely OK gameplay, but at the end of the day it's good mechanics and gameplay that I appreciate most. I just really want a game that marries a great story with great gameplay, something that just hasn't been done to my satisfaction quite yet.

EDIT: Whoa, wait.

But to dismiss an entire genre's merits in terms of marrying narrative with gameplay and questioning the use of violence in mechanical ways by giving you compelling reasons NOT to kill people (an avenue this game doesn't really cater to what with its emphasis on violent animations and lack of rewards for avoiding enemies)

You're onto this? Again!?

Posted by Kraznor

@believer258: Yes, and after another half hour playing it I feel its entirely warranted to call it out for its attitude towards violence. Main example that stands out, if you attempt to stealth kill a dog he knocks it unconscious and the words "Hound" and "Slumber" appear to assure the player you didn't just kill a dog. The default takedown for humans? Stabbing them through the neck. That seems a little weird to me. This game just doesn't seem to want you to NOT kill guys, they designed all those graphic kill animations afterall (and played some Shank 2 last night too, Klei just seems to love morbid violence without any of those unseamly consequences).

And to those balking at comparing this to big budget games...I didn't make that comparison in the first place. I'm providing a rebuttal to the assertion several Giant Bomb employees made in the GOTY discussions that stealth as a genre has been terrible up until now, which infuriates me simply because everything prior paved the way for this game that derives almost every single mechanic from Metal Gear, SPlinter Cell, Arkham Asylum and numerous others, and they don't really acknowledge that legacy or pay it the proper respect.

And budget isn't an excuse for little to no writing to compel the player to keep doing things. Why am I supposed to care about this Sensei I'm tasked with rescuing? What's so fantastic about my Ninja clan that I'm murdering all these people on their behest? Just some bare bones context and set-up is all I want.

Posted by Kraznor

@jsnyder82 said:

I can't wait until about 40 posts in, when the game finally clicks with you, and you completely re-edit your post to say how much you're now enjoying it.

Don't hold your breath.

Posted by Demoskinos

I got this gifted to me on steam and while I'm mostly enjoying it I can nod my head and agree I think the praise is a bit of hyberbole it does nothing that other stealth games haven't done and in many cases better it simply marries various ideas from various stealth games. And as also stated the I am finding the game not as addicting as say... a Hitman because unlike Hitman i don't give a shit about any of the characters or the world. This game does absolutely nothing new and people claiming its "fixing stealth" must have been knocked on the head a few times or at the very least not paid any fucking attention to the genre over the last few years.

Even though it was much less traditional splinter cell conviction was an excellent stealth game and Hitman Absolution made awesome strides in fleshing out the Hitman formula. Hell, even Dishonored made huge leaps at making First Person stealth actually really fun and viable and turned the stealth genre on its head in the way you approached situations with your powers. So really I don't see why this game is getting such unanimous praise. Its good but nothing exceedingly special.

Posted by believer258

@Kraznor said:

@believer258: Yes, and after another half hour playing it I feel its entirely warranted to call it out for its attitude towards violence. Main example that stands out, if you attempt to stealth kill a dog he knocks it unconscious and the words "Hound" and "Slumber" appear to assure the player you didn't just kill a dog. The default takedown for humans? Stabbing them through the neck. That seems a little weird to me. This game just doesn't seem to want you to NOT kill guys, they designed all those graphic kill animations afterall (and played some Shank 2 last night too, Klei just seems to love morbid violence without any of those unseamly consequences).

And to those balking at comparing this to big budget games...I didn't make that comparison in the first place. I'm providing a rebuttal to the assertion several Giant Bomb employees made in the GOTY discussions that stealth as a genre has been terrible up until now, which infuriates me simply because everything prior paved the way for this game that derives almost every single mechanic from Metal Gear, SPlinter Cell, Arkham Asylum and numerous others, and they don't really acknowledge that legacy or pay it the proper respect.

And budget isn't an excuse for little to no writing to compel the player to keep doing things. Why am I supposed to care about this Sensei I'm tasked with rescuing? What's so fantastic about my Ninja clan that I'm murdering all these people on their behest? Just some bare bones context and set-up is all I want.

All right, but your arguments don't hold water because, well, you're missing the point. And the point is mechanics and gameplay - it's a video game boiled down to a pure game, no narrative to get in the way of you sneaking by dudes or killing them or whatever. You're not supposed to care about the sensei at all, you are supposed to care about the gameplay involved in getting there. That is something that I can respect in a game - focus on mechanics in an age where people seem to think everything in a game needs justification when the game itself is the justification.

Anyway, I don't think the Giantbomb crew were saying that stealth has never been fun. I think they were saying that Klei did a great job of improving stealth in games where it's been stagnant or moving toward action for a while. Even Dishonored, a game obviously bent toward stealth, has plenty of combat mechanics there for you to kill dudes with.

Posted by ImmortalSaiyan

Not everyone needs a story for the hook to keep playing. I play through a game like Mark of the Ninja or Vanquish because the gameplay and overall game design is fantastic. I understand that some people find games like that like charm and don't feel driven to keep playing them.

I agree that is not the most memorable game but I like it a lot because I respect the quality and well executed gameplay. I found it a lot of fun to play but it never left as big a lasting impression as some other games this year. You can get the max metals for score if you don't kill anyone.

Posted by Zippedbinders

I think you're mixing up first impressions and reviews. Save your critique until you finish it. I haven't played it but it feels like you're being overly dismissive for something like this.

Don't let hyperbolic praise or, "hype" ever get to you for things like this. I stopped giving a rats ass about hype at least a generation ago, I don't really get disappointed anymore.

Posted by MariachiMacabre

You don't play this game for the story (however the premise is interesting), you play it because it's gameplay and mechanics are executed flawlessly. Better than any other game this year. It gives you every bit of information you're going to need without a bunch of clunky UI clutter. And it makes you feel like a complete badass while also being vulnerable as hell. It's really, really good.

Posted by owack6

@Kraznor said:

Full transparency, only played the first two and a half stages of Mark of the Ninja thus far (just shy of an hour) but...I just don't see it. Yes, it controls well and has that quality animation Klei does oh so well but the narrative thus far is extremely thin and I just don't feel compelled to keep playing.The gameplay is extremely derivative of Splinter Cell Convicion and Arkham Asylum. Yes, those systems have been translated successfully to 2D, but it just isn't entertaining enough on its own to keep me invested.

Now, I mainly tried this out due to the seemingly (and now, in my mind, confirmed) hyperbolic praise given it by Brad and Patrick and I feel the disdain expressed towards 3D stealth games is pretty damn dismissive. See, Metal Gear Solid at least gives you a carrot on the end of that stick to keep you playing, its called a narrative. Its called characters. Writing, ya dig? Yes, this Ninja game is less clunky in a pure mechanical sense but it also has a bit of a soulless vibe to it, if I may be so bold. There is nothing here beyond the base mechanics. Brad even says he wouldn't mind if it was stick figures, its the mechanics of the gameplay that make this fun to those not looking for anything more. Now, if you want to go ahead and compare this to mechanically focused games like a Super Meat Boy or a Pac-Man Championship Edition or N+, go ahead. But to dismiss an entire genre's merits in terms of marrying narrative with gameplay and questioning the use of violence in mechanical ways by giving you compelling reasons NOT to kill people (an avenue this game doesn't really cater to what with its emphasis on violent animations and lack of rewards for avoiding enemies), as well as inventing several of the systems this game incorporates just seems gross to me. Credit where credit is due. This game is less ambitious in every sense, yet it receives unapologetic praise in spite of those other games. Yet another illustration of the prioritization of the most basic aspects of game design over the loftier ambitions Giant Bomb, and game media at large, seems to favor.

Just like you the stealth mechanics didn't click with me about 2-3 hours into the game, and it went from a dismissive "meh its alright" to goddamn this controls and feels fantastic.

I'm not a big stealth fan and can't say this game "solves" the genre's problem but it's definitely a step in the right direction, it didn't compel me to play through the game for a second time but its definitely one of those i can honestly recommend this game to anyone experiences.

Posted by Oldirtybearon

one of the biggest issues with Mark of the Ninja is your inability to kill the fucking dogs.

I'm completely serious. How is it acceptable to kill 40-50 guards stealthy in a level but you only get to karate chop a dog? Do the developers at Klei truly think that a goddamn animal with no higher thought process is somehow worth more than a person?

This is a half-joking post, but seriously. It's just a dog. It's not that big of a deal if I cut its face off.

Posted by believer258

@Oldirtybearon said:

one of the biggest issues with Mark of the Ninja is your inability to kill the fucking dogs.

I'm completely serious. How is it acceptable to kill 40-50 guards stealthy in a level but you only get to karate chop a dog? Do the developers at Klei truly think that a goddamn animal with no higher thought process is somehow worth more than a person?

This is a half-joking post, but seriously. It's just a dog. It's not that big of a deal if I cut its face off.

Because Klei is secretly run by Mel Gibson.

Edited by granderojo

I want to know what a lot of the high scores are on each level for the people here dismissing Mark of the Ninja's praise as hyperbole. I'm just starting new game + and I have to say it can be easy, but figuring out ways to maximize your score through manipulating the environment and terrorizing the guards is where that game excels for me. It's why I like that it checkpoints so much, the game is basically my canvas, it plays so smoothly I just want to keep trying to get that higher score on each confrontation.

This is why I like stealth games, having to think about what I'm doing and having a lot to think about in every scenario. Maybe you guys play these games for other reasons, but that's why I play them.

The biggest bummer for me with this game is I can't seem how to compare scores with by steam friendslist.

Posted by Fearbeard

I can understand the need for a decent narrative to get excited about playing the game. I was far more invested in the story of Shank then I've been in with Mark of the Ninja. I'm about 4 or 5 levels in so far but honestly I have no idea why I'm doing what I'm doing or why I should care.

However the praise they heaped on the game was for it's gameplay, and there is almost nothing I can complain about there. It has amazingly intuitive controls for really complicated situations. Want to leap into a room, throw a dagger at a light to break it and get a guard moving towards it while simultaneously throwing a spike trap in his way and grappling a ledge above another guard in preparation for dropping down and slaughtering him? No problem at all.

I just think you came into the game with different expectations then you probably should have.

Posted by HerbieBug

This game starts very slow. I was apathetic about it for several hours before it, just today, started to work for me. That is the result of a few things:

-I think the movement speed of all characters in the game is too slow (both for your character and the guards). I would like foot speed to be a little closer to the grapple hook speed. Fast and snappy. Faster ninja, faster guards, faster everything. Maybe walk speed equivalent to existing run speed, run speed doubled, jump/air movement speed increased by 25%.

-game takes too long to open up access to the more interesting skills and tools. First few levels you're working with the very basic toolset, which is hardly representative of the good things the game does later on.

-I was playing it like an older stealth game. Restarting checkpoints whenever I tripped an alarm. Game is much more fun if you keep going and try to escape. Turns out escaping an alarm in this game is much easier than I assumed it to be, thus the checkpoint restarting I did during the first couple missions.

-I think it's best to try not to worry about your score during your first playthrough. Being obsessive about those numbers only curtails your capacity to have any fun on the first go around when you're still unfamiliar with the game's mechanics.

Remember:

1. Ninjas are mammals.

2. Ninjas fight ALL the time.

3. The purpose of the ninja is to flip out and kill people.

To hell with score. Save worrying about that for new game +. I'm having a lot more fun with it now using that approach.

Posted by Rxanadu

@probablytuna: I think the stealth games they're talking about are along the lines of Alpha Protocol and Spy Fiction. I feel like players can be just as successful in Hitman: Silent Assassin or Batman: Arkham Asylum as they can be in Mark of the Ninja or Dishonored. It's just that most players didn't feel as though they has as much information about why they were caught in one situation and not in another. I've been in numerous situations where I slowly walk behind a person in Alpha Protocol and the person still goes into full alert. You could probably see it, too, in some prior stealth games, such as in the Splinter Cell games.

Posted by bvilleneuve

They had it right when they dismissed a large chunk of stealth game history as formative at best, bad at worst. The challenge with stealth games is in awareness. How do we make the player aware of everything a superspy/clone soldier/bat-man would be aware of without spoiling the immersion with a bunch of unwieldy UI elements? I understand that you and a lot of other people have some attachment to Metal Gear Solid's animu storyline, and I can certainly appreciate the care and attention that went into the aesthetic garnish of those games, but their core gameplay feels bad. Arkham Asylum feels great, but I wouldn't classify that as a stealth game, to be honest. It's much more a beat-em-up with stealth elements. And Hitman: Blood Money is much more an adventure game than it is a stealth game. Mark of the Ninja is the first stealth game to understand what makes stealth a cool gameplay concept and really run all the way with it.

...wait, haven't I argued with this pony avatar before? How does this keep happening to me?

Posted by casper_

patrick does seem pretty adamant that there is no such thing as good stealth mechanics besides this game which i have to disagree with

Edited by Karkarov

@believer258 said:

All right, but your arguments don't hold water because, well, you're missing the point. And the point is mechanics and gameplay - it's a video game boiled down to a pure game, no narrative to get in the way of you sneaking by dudes or killing them or whatever. You're not supposed to care about the sensei at all, you are supposed to care about the gameplay involved in getting there. That is something that I can respect in a game - focus on mechanics in an age where people seem to think everything in a game needs justification when the game itself is the justification.

Or maybe some people want more than just a game with nothing else on the side. I know I have absolutely no plan to buy Mark of the Ninja I did my research, watched some vids, and said "oh it is Shank with stealth, pass". All the praise it gets has baffled me from day one, much like many other games getting slammed with unwarranted hype this year. The game play is great, awesome, but this isn't 1985 anymore. I want more with my game than "pure mechanics". Meanwhile I recently started Arkham City and am enjoying the heck out of it because it also has solid mechanics, good gameplay, and I even get the added bonus of a narrative and actually caring about what is going on.

These arguments for this game are almost hypocritical to boot. Let's look at Far Cry 3 for example, a game with good gameplay, but just about every member of the staff complained about the second islands story not delivering? I thought gameplay and fun were their own justification?

Posted by Atwa

For me the first few levels I was like, eh? whats the big deal? but then just BAM it hit me and I had one of the most enjoyable stealth experiences EVER. Its just that good. 

Posted by Napalm

@Atwa said:

For me the first few levels I was like, eh? whats the big deal? but then just BAM it hit me and I had one of the most enjoyable stealth experiences EVER. Its just that good.

The same exact literal thing happened to me earlier this week. The first intro portion didn't hook me, but everything just clicked. I'm going back a little cold on it now because they keep introducing stuff super quick, both in defense and the enemies defenses and it's throwing my rhythm off.

Posted by probablytuna

@Rxanadu said:

@probablytuna: I think the stealth games they're talking about are along the lines of Alpha Protocol and Spy Fiction. I feel like players can be just as successful in Hitman: Silent Assassin or Batman: Arkham Asylum as they can be in Mark of the Ninja or Dishonored. It's just that most players didn't feel as though they has as much information about why they were caught in one situation and not in another. I've been in numerous situations where I slowly walk behind a person in Alpha Protocol and the person still goes into full alert. You could probably see it, too, in some prior stealth games, such as in the Splinter Cell games.

I remember Patrick specifically mentioned Metal Gear Solid and frankly I think he is wrong on that point. Sure there were games that weren't great at stealth but they essentially dismissed stealth games in general before 2012 to be terrible.

Posted by CornBREDX

I agree. I didn't think it was that great either. It is alright, but it does nothing for stealth games for me and was not that fun to play. 
I have a hard time expressing why, I've found, but it just didn't click with me like it seems to with people who don't like stealth games as they have been represented before (which I do). 
 
The violence, and them trying to downplay it, doesn't really matter to me.

Posted by DeathbyYeti

@Kraznor: Yea I dont see it either

about 6 hours in and just put it down and never went back

Posted by believer258

@Karkarov said:

@believer258 said:

All right, but your arguments don't hold water because, well, you're missing the point. And the point is mechanics and gameplay - it's a video game boiled down to a pure game, no narrative to get in the way of you sneaking by dudes or killing them or whatever. You're not supposed to care about the sensei at all, you are supposed to care about the gameplay involved in getting there. That is something that I can respect in a game - focus on mechanics in an age where people seem to think everything in a game needs justification when the game itself is the justification.

Or maybe some people want more than just a game with nothing else on the side. I know I have absolutely no plan to buy Mark of the Ninja I did my research, watched some vids, and said "oh it is Shank with stealth, pass". All the praise it gets has baffled me from day one, much like many other games getting slammed with unwarranted hype this year. The game play is great, awesome, but this isn't 1985 anymore. I want more with my game than "pure mechanics". Meanwhile I recently started Arkham City and am enjoying the heck out of it because it also has solid mechanics, good gameplay, and I even get the added bonus of a narrative and actually caring about what is going on.

These arguments for this game are almost hypocritical to boot. Let's look at Far Cry 3 for example, a game with good gameplay, but just about every member of the staff complained about the second islands story not delivering? I thought gameplay and fun were their own justification?

I should be clearer. I do think that a game with a wonderful narrative and a reason to care about what you are doing is a great thing; this is why, despite not finishing it yet, I'd consider Walking Dead to be one hell of an achievement in gaming even though the game part of it actually isn't all that wonderful. And, really, the same goes for the Mass Effect games - sub par gameplay and levels made up for by a story you can get invested in.

But at the end of the day, story isn't why I play games. Story actually takes quite a backburner to my purchasing motivations in most games. I do value it, and greatly so, I think it can go a long way toward making me care about a game and toward pushing my favorite past time forward. I play games for their gameplay, and that's what Mark of the Ninja apparently boils down to. And so do some of the greatest games ever. What I meant to say was that , and apparently you, put a greater value on story than I do, and so do many other people, the Giantbomb crew seemingly included. And I do. And if a game promises a story, but fails to deliver, then it deserves to be criticized properly. But a bare-bones story is not something that makes a game somehow lesser than one with a great story. It's merely a game with different intentions and catering to different tastes.

Posted by TobbRobb

@Oldirtybearon: I know it's almost two days late. But you can totally give the dogs a good cutting with the drop down attack.

That is actually how I got past most of them, just hang on a ledge and then drop down to stab them.

Posted by RockyRaccoon37

@believer258 said:

I should be clearer. I do think that a game with a wonderful narrative and a reason to care about what you are doing is a great thing; this is why, despite not finishing it yet, I'd consider Walking Dead to be one hell of an achievement in gaming even though the game part of it actually isn't all that wonderful. And, really, the same goes for the Mass Effect games - sub par gameplay and levels made up for by a story you can get invested in.

But at the end of the day, story isn't why I play games. Story actually takes quite a backburner to my purchasing motivations in most games. I do value it, and greatly so, I think it can go a long way toward making me care about a game and toward pushing my favorite past time forward. I play games for their gameplay, and that's what Mark of the Ninja apparently boils down to. And so do some of the greatest games ever. What I meant to say was that , and apparently you, put a greater value on story than I do, and so do many other people, the Giantbomb crew seemingly included. And I do. And if a game promises a story, but fails to deliver, then it deserves to be criticized properly. But a bare-bones story is not something that makes a game somehow lesser than one with a great story. It's merely a game with different intentions and catering to different tastes.

I think you make a generally fair point here-- that being said, I think the failing of Mark of the Ninja is not that it is lacking a story, but that it is lacking a soul or identity. Often that is derived through narrative, so I think that's what the OP was getting at-- that story would have been a viable option to provide context for your actions and tonal context, thus creating something resembling an identity. Like if it had been modeled after a bad grindhouse ninja flick, similar to Shank's grindhouse tone. Instead what little story exists takes itself much too seriously.

I won't speak on the behalf of the OP, but for me the game is starkly lacking creativity. It uses mechanics established previously in games that utilized stealth mechanics and arguably hones and visualizes them in an intelligent way. But it does nothing new, and I would argue that much of what the game does it does well but not remarkably so. It continues to fail in the way that many stealth games fail-- the AI is simplistic and easy to manipulate, it relies heavily on trial-and-error, the game even uses the MGS-style alert meter, and you often only have one method of proceeding through a section of the game in a stealthy manner (and it often involves hiding in doorways).

Playing this and Shank evoked very similar emotions from me-- I began excited, enjoying the experience, and then upon discovering that there was little left to discover after the first 30 minutes I found myself bored. But at least Shank had style.

It's a well-made game that is a notable improvement over Shank, but is not at all deserving of the praise being heaped onto it.

It's the dictionary definition of a forgettable experience.

Online
Posted by Vinny_Says

uhhh yeah you do get bonuses for not killing anyone.

As someone who enjoys stealth games it felt extremely satisfying to complete a level with no alarms/no casualties. I certainly didn't need a strong premise to keep playing, and at no time did the GOTY discussions revolve around the story of Mark of the Ninja. The fact that you went in with these expectations is on you.

I think it's extremely dumb of patrick (and others) to just make wild claims that stealth sucks, but that's what happens when people who actively dislike and don't play a genre of games open their dumb mouths and shit out an opinion about it. It won't benefit you to try and argue with them.

Edited by granderojo

@Vinny_Says said:

I think it's extremely dumb of patrick (and others) to just make wild claims that stealth sucks, but that's what happens when people who actively dislike and don't play a genre of games open their dumb mouths and shit out an opinion about it.

What happens when fans of stealth games happen to agree with Patrick that classic stealth games suck?

Posted by TobbRobb

@RockyRaccoon37 said:

, and you often only have one method of proceeding through a section of the game in a stealthy manner (and it often involves hiding in doorways).

I don't agree with but understand a lot of your other points, since they are based on perspective. But this one just plain isn't true. I've gone through every part of the game in at least 3 different ways. I dare you to find any spot that I can't find alternate routes for.

Posted by Kraznor

@MariachiMacabre: See, I don't "feel like a badass" while playing it, I don't feel anything at all because I don't care about anything that's going on. Yes, I can sneak up on some guy and stab him, but WHY am I doing that other than that is a thing I can do in the game? In Arkham, its all non-lethal and you are a force of justice in that world. Here you are just yet another dude with a sword and that isn't a compelling enough reason for me to want to engage with the game. Maybe if I go back again I'll try avoiding everything and see if the game acknowledges I'm doing that and rewards me accordingly but my experience thus far has been pretty disappointing.

Posted by RockyRaccoon37

@TobbRobb said:

@RockyRaccoon37 said:

, and you often only have one method of proceeding through a section of the game in a stealthy manner (and it often involves hiding in doorways).

I don't agree with but understand a lot of your other points, since they are based on perspective. But this one just plain isn't true. I've gone through every part of the game in at least 3 different ways. I dare you to find any spot that I can't find alternate routes for.

I could be remembering the game wrong but I only recall being able to sneak past guards on the ground level, usually by using doors and objects as cover, or ventilation/lamp posts to sneak above the guards. Obviously you have tools you can use to distract guards as well, but I often found that there was the one obvious route of sneaking past the guards in a given room.

Online
Posted by Nottle

Mark of the Ninja is great. I beat it twice. However I don't think it controls as perfect as they say. There were times that the X appears for me to do an stealth kill and my guy just does that awkward 3 hit combo instead.

Also MGS is mechanically better than what people give it credit for.

Posted by RockyRaccoon37

@Kraznor said:

@MariachiMacabre: See, I don't "feel like a badass" while playing it, I don't feel anything at all because I don't care about anything that's going on. Yes, I can sneak up on some guy and stab him, but WHY am I doing that other than that is a thing I can do in the game? In Arkham, its all non-lethal and you are a force of justice in that world. Here you are just yet another dude with a sword and that isn't a compelling enough reason for me to want to engage with the game. Maybe if I go back again I'll try avoiding everything and see if the game acknowledges I'm doing that and rewards me accordingly but my experience thus far has been pretty disappointing.

The game does reward you for sneaking past guards without killing them. Not sure if it nets you more points than if you stealth kill someone, but it does reward you.

Online
Edited by TobbRobb

@Kraznor: Your ninja clan is falling apart at the seams and is attacked by mercenaries. Get revenge on the asshole that sent them. If you don't think that is enough justification to stab his guards, then don't. Non lethal is 100% viable all the way through.

And if story is the main or only draw in a game for you, then you did a poor choice with this game. As far as I know, no one has praised the story in this game. It's all about having fun with the gameplay and if that's not enough, then no shit you won't like it.

@RockyRaccoon37: There usually is one obvious path, but that path changes depending on who is looking at the game. For the record, except for a few choice occasions I never used the doorways or pots, because they are slow and boring, so they were never part of my "obvious path". It's all about perspective.

Posted by jillsandwich

@Kraznor said:

@believer258: Yes, and after another half hour playing it I feel its entirely warranted to call it out for its attitude towards violence. Main example that stands out, if you attempt to stealth kill a dog he knocks it unconscious and the words "Hound" and "Slumber" appear to assure the player you didn't just kill a dog. The default takedown for humans? Stabbing them through the neck. That seems a little weird to me. This game just doesn't seem to want you to NOT kill guys, they designed all those graphic kill animations afterall (and played some Shank 2 last night too, Klei just seems to love morbid violence without any of those unseamly consequences).

Man, that dog didn't have a choice.

Posted by Kraznor

@believer258: No narrative? Then what are those cutscenes and dialogue all about? Thatgamecompany does pure, this isn't that, its just bad enough at the story side of things people are overlooking it in favor of what the game does well.

Posted by Kraznor

@Oldirtybearon said:

one of the biggest issues with Mark of the Ninja is your inability to kill the fucking dogs.

I'm completely serious. How is it acceptable to kill 40-50 guards stealthy in a level but you only get to karate chop a dog? Do the developers at Klei truly think that a goddamn animal with no higher thought process is somehow worth more than a person?

This is a half-joking post, but seriously. It's just a dog. It's not that big of a deal if I cut its face off.

I completely agree with this. Just feels weird for the game to take a moral stand on that but have no issue with you stabbing some poor schmo in the back.

Posted by believer258

@Kraznor said:

@believer258: No narrative? Then what are those cutscenes and dialogue all about? Thatgamecompany does pure, this isn't that, its just bad enough at the story side of things people are overlooking it in favor of what the game does well.

Journey is a whole lot more than "pure mechanics", but let's not get into that. Please? Please just take my word for that? You're not going to, are you? I'm going to have to go off on a tangent and explain that one, aren't I?

Well, I'm not. Go play Journey and pay closer attention.

Anyway, I'd wager that the cutscenes and dialogue are a side effect of this generation's obsession with improving storytelling and Klei felt like Mark of the Ninja needed some story and context. I don't know. Here's what I do know - this is not a game that you play for its deep and engrossing narrative. If that's what you're looking for, play Spec Ops or a Bioware game or something else. And that's pretty much the end of what I have to say on this subject, every other thing I want to say on it has been said already.

Posted by Kraznor

@believer258: Journey isn't their only game, and they are but one example of a developer that makes more gameplay-focused experiences than what we're talking about here.

And I only bring up the lack of narrative being an issue here because that is what makes other examples of the stealth genre so good and to dismiss those as being lacking compared to this simply because this has more accessible mechanics (which is debatable, not to mention the fact they are all derived from those very games being dismissed, but whatever) is why I'm making a note of that being problematic.

And as I've said about my issue with killing people while dogs remain unscathed, I think when your mechanics are extremely violent you need to really think about what that's saying. I'm going to attempt to play this without killing anyone and see if it rewards me for doing so. If it doesn't, this won't be the last time I'll decry it for doing so.