Mark of the Ninja Overview

What do you think of Mark of the Ninja?

It is actually one of the best stealth games ever. I was working on a style video for it, but I never got around to finishing it. As I got better at the game, I kept trying to bypass every area without being seen, using only the bamboo dart. The final level is weird though, they put out some of the hardest level designs in the whole game, but give you a ton of grapple points that let you just skip all of them without effort, very high affordance.

It has a really great detection and investigation algorithm, and a large number of tools useful for distraction, including environmental features as well, like lights, gongs, and more. The levels simultaneously create challenges for you, and provide different options for progression. It’s really beautiful how the vision cones of the guards was made to be just barely small enough that you can jump over them in the dark without being seen. Many of the smaller options, like the hover, have a great feel to them.

The feedback about where enemies can see and how far sound travels and your last known location is great for understanding how the system works. I love the NG+ mode that obscures a ton of that information, because by that point you’re already familiar with how all the systems work, which is something I think other stealth games have something of a problem with.

I found that the noise maker tool was a bit overpowered, which is why I eventually did nearly all bamboo dart, because it draws enemies to me directly, it can stun them temporarily, and interact with certain environmental setpieces, as well as being easily usable without needing to focus. There’s a lot of depth to that simple bamboo dart in a way that is also challenging. I also overcomplicated many of my paths through the level for the sake of making it interesting.

One negative remark I’d like to make though is the game really encourages save scumming for perfect stealth. They make it really easy. That and the scoring system isn’t terribly interesting. Also many areas could stand to not give you easy ways out of confrontations, and I don’t like the sleeping gas upgrade of the smoke bomb, which moves it from a rather balanced distraction item to practically OP.

The DLC is great, as well as the DLC character, better level design than much of the main game and I always like nonlethal.

Here’s the rough cut of my best mark of the ninja tricks (I wish I paused a little less to consider my options):

I want to go back to the game some day and get more footage of the later areas.

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