A Retro Homage to Ninja Gaiden
The Messenger is a 2D Action-Platformer inspired by the Ninja Gaiden games from the NES era, with really tight controls and cool level design. It's starts really strong with it's linear progression, and it kind of loses momentum at the middle of it, when it tries to give the game a cool twist.
The idea and the presentation behind that twist is simply amazing, I kept thinking "how did nobody thought about this?". The graphics as well as the music are what gives the game its charm and personality, and seeing that change throughout the second part of the game is really cool. I really enjoyed that. But the gameplay loop doesn't hold up as well as in the first half, that you're just going through a clear path with the levels changing theme, plus a cool boss fight at the end of each area. The second half is more of a Metroidvania kind of game, with a whole lot of backtracking.
The Messenger has one of the most well done 8-bit style soundtracks I've seen, as well as level design. The puzzle rooms are really amazing, some of the most clever of a 2D Action-Platformer game from the last couple of years. The progression through the game is well done, you start off as a simple Ninja, that can run, attack and jump, but if you attack and hit something while in the air, you can jump again. Later you unlock things like a grappling hook and a wing suit, and that's where the game starts to find itself. The gameplay starts to click and become faster, you start to feel the pace and the level design improving with your character.
The game also has an upgrade system, where you can spend the currency that you earn by killing enemies and improve your health, attack, shurikens, etc. The game has some really hard platforming sections and not that hard boss fights, what I think was a very good idea, I can see more players being frustated with bosses that are too hard, but the platforming is fast, with tight controls and fair challenge for gamers that are looking for it.
The story is pretty simple, you're a messenger, that has a job to do. And on the course of your journey you start to learn more about what's going on. The dialogues are well written, with some funny moments. Having some cool moments and some fillers in between. I would recommend the game to any 2D Action-Platformer fan, specially to Ninja Gaiden fans. Despite the game taking a hit in the second half, it's still a very cool experience, and the game is pretty unique. It has its own style and great controls.