Each week our resident Indie Gamer Nicholas takes a look at a different Indie Game that you may or may not have heard about. Join him on his adventures as he sifts through the rubbish to find The Indie Game of the Week.
What makes a good stealth game?
Well, first things first, your character needs to be the sneaky sort. They need to have a full repertoire of skills at their disposal that allows them to remain unseen. There needs to be plenty of opportunities for creativity, plenty of available choices, and a number of factors which contribute to (or detract from) one's stealth. Enemies should be dangerous yet believable, intelligent yet predictable.
Most importantly - and this is where so many titles fall short - the game needs to make the player feel empowered, while at the same time making things hazardous enough that stealth really is the best option.
Klei Entertainment's Mark of the Ninja manages all these factors with flying colors, and looks damned fine doing so, to boot. Perhaps even more impressive is that it does all this as a 2D platformer. That platformer, far from being simple, is remarkably deep: more so than many larger titles.
In Mark of the Ninja, players take on the role of a nameless ninja sporting a host of mystic tattoos. This ninja is the champion of the Hisomu clan; the tattoos grant him superhuman abilities, albeit at a terrible cost: he will inevitably be driven insane by their influence. This marked champion is dispatched to kill a businessman by the name of Karajan after a cadre of mercenaries hired by the mogul descend upon Hisomu temple. Along the way, he'll be forced to use a whole host of archaic weapons to counter the modern gear wielded by his foes, including bamboo darts, spike traps, and smoke bombs.
All of this equipment is, not surprisingly, devastatingly effective in the hands of the champion.
In-game, stealth is impacted by both light and sound. Running makes noise, and will very likely alert someone to your presence, while staying in the light cast by a lamp or by a guard's flashlight is guaranteed to lead to detection. Consequently, sticking to the shadows and taking your time will allow you to remain hidden.
Of course, this can all be used to your advantage, as well. Making noise of any sort (for example, throwing a bamboo dart at a nearby gong) will distract your foes and potentially cause them to investigate, while most light sources can be destroyed, bathing an area in darkness. This system is made even more complex by the fact that, occasionally, if you manage to kill one guard undetected while he's in sight of others, they're very likely to panic and make your job even easier.
It gets better: in most cases, you actually have a choice as to whether or not you want to kill. It's actually possible to play through most of the game without having to slaughter a single guard. What's more, you're given a considerable degree of freedom in how you want to approach a given situation; most levels feature multiple paths and the option for a wide array of tactics.
In the event that you'd prefer to kill, you'd best be cautious- bungling a stealth kill will give your target a messy, gurgling demise which is likely or alert anyone nearby. A ninja's job, the game reminds you, is about skill and finesse. Bodies can be hidden after a guard is done away with, or left out in the open. Your choice- just make sure no one stumbles onto them if they aren't hidden.
Oh, you can also slow time, and climb on walls and ceilings. Supernatural tattoos, remember?
As a stealth game, Mark of the Ninja is, quite frankly, remarkable, and as an action-platformer, it manages to be cut above its peers. The fluid animations and incredibly fine-tuned controls make for an enjoyable, altogether empowering experience; well-animated cutscenes tie everything together and add a nice dose of context to each mission. If you've not yet picked up this one on Steam, do so. You won't regret that choice.
Five Reasons To Love (And Hate) Free To Play
"Free To Play" is the phrase that's been on everyone's lips lately, particularly in the world of MMOs. It's the new business model that every production executive is cooing over; the model that many have come to hate with a burning, fiery passion. But is it really so bad?
Ten Things Rockstar Did Right With GTA Online
So...by now, most of you are probably aware that Rockstar kind of botched the launch of GTA Online. I mean, they seriously botched it. To the point that it was completely unplayable. At the same time, though...they handled the situation masterfully - there's a lot of stuff they actually did right.
Five Reasons To Look Forward To League's Fourth Season
With this year's LCS drawn to a close, a new season of League of Legends is just about upon us. It's bringing with it some very, very big changes. Trust me when I say they're something to be very, very excited for.
Indie Game Of The Week: Magicka
This week, I'm revisiting an old favorite of mine - and one that I desperately hope you've heard of. Magicka tells the tale of one to four homicidal, sociopathic wizards, their not-vampire instructor, and an eldritch abomination that threatens to destroy the whole world. Did I mention you can blow up pretty near anything you've a mind to?
Indie Game of The Week: Huntsman: The Orphanage
This week, I'll be taking a look at Huntsman: The Orphanage; a rather fresh take on the horror genre that manages to convey fear and anxiety without any violence or gore whatsoever. It's actually pretty impressive.
Ten Ways Social Media Has Changed The MMO
Social networks have effectively changed the way we...well, do pretty much everything. We interact differently, work differently, and even view the world differently since the birth of Facebook - there's even talk that it's bringing about a fundamental change in the way we think. It should thus come as no surprise that they've also had a considerable impact on the world of MMOs.
Indie Game of The Week: Outlast
This week, we'll be taking a look at Outlast, a horror game that tosses you into the shoes of independent journalist Miles Upshur as he explores the sinister Mount Massive Asylum. Spoiler alert: it doesn't go so well for dear Miles.
Indie Game Of The Week: The Bridge
This week, we're going to take a look at puzzle platformer "The Bridge," a rather esoteric game about a mad scientist, impossible geometry, and a reckless disregard for the laws of time, space, physics, and gravity. Shall we get started?
League: Ten Tips To Help You Be A Better Support
Historically, support has kind of been the butt-monkey role of League of Legends. In spite of being one of the most valuable and vital roles in the game, few people ever seem to want to play it. As a result...there aren't all that many people who can actually play it well. We need to change that.
Indie Game Of The Week: Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs
For those of you who've been living under a rock, I've some news: Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs has finally released. It's about as terrifying as everyone expected it to be, but for entirely different reasons.