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I Finished: Mark of the Ninja (Steam, PC)

Going into this game, the hype and praise was deafening. "Best stealth in a video game ever!" "Finally, stealth in a game that doesn't suck!" "The team from Shank gets it right!" It's dismissive to say this didn't inform my playthrough, though I will admit it was quite a bit of fun wholly based on its own merits.

Please, check on your buddy. That seems like the logical thing to do here, right?
Please, check on your buddy. That seems like the logical thing to do here, right?

Doing stealth right involves getting the controls and mechanics out of the way as much as possible so the player can execute exactly what they want to do (to a large degree, this could be said to be the ultimate goal of an game developer). If the button presses don't toss the guy over the railing when I want to, or grab a guard from the safety of the bright lights and slit his throat before anyone notices he's gone, the experience is broken. Klei understood this tenant and adhere firmly to it, using 2D trappings to keep things simple, yet oh-so-deadly.

Throughout the game, your upgrades (re: cooler and more effective ways to slay and/or deceive dudes) are based on your performance, so perks are what you make of them. Want that noise maker with the remote trigger? Be a better ninja. And that worked for me; I wanted to be the baddest, most equipped ninja I could be, so I adhered to their rules and raised as little hell as possible. The late game mechanic (I assume, maybe it comes earlier if your play is better than mine) to reveal more outfits to you, all of which demand drastically different play styles, was too much for my blood-craving mind to comprehend. After running through them all, I resorted to the original set and finished with that.

Sticking to the code of the ninja gets you far in this game, but there are so many different ways in which to do so, the game never plays through the same way twice. But each play is sure to be just as satisfying as the last.