Mark of the Ninja is a hell of a thing. You should play it. Just sayin:’

I’ve been too busy enjoying myself in Dust: Elysian Tail to boot it up before last night, but damn if I wasn’t immediately impressed. I love me some stealth gameplay, even (apparently) in 2D. Big props for them including what I consider to be a “Thief Style” difficulty scale, in which you are rewarded for doing elaborately more and more complicated sorts of things.

Just wish that (as is the problem with ALL stealth titles) that the “ghost mode” bonus didn’t always outweigh the “killing guys” bonus. Look, it’s not about killing guys, and this I totally get. I just feel sad that in a Ninja game (and, after discovering how COOL it is to, for example, hang down from a chain like a black widow and yank fools off the ground) I find myself buying powerups (jumping kick!) that I’m never, ever going to use because, you know, jumping and kicking someone in the face is a thing that amateurs who don’t sneak silently past guards need to do. Thank goodness that they put in some occasional incentives in the form of those extra mission objectives for things like “kill five mooks and stuff their bodies in five dumpsters” otherwise that ninja-to would never get used. Same reason I played through DX: Human Revolution without seeing an animation for a lethal takedown. Let’s take it back to Thief and just have “the purpose of this guy is NOT to kill people” mode. Except, you know, Ninjas. Their purpose IS to flip out and kill people. But you earn objectively less honor for this. You see my problem.

Seaking of Dust: Dude, if you are one single person and you program / storyboard / illustrate / animate / design literally EVERYTHING in this package except for the music which you contracted out to someone else, then I salute you, sir. Lengthwise, experiencewise, stylewise Dust is right up there at the top of the genre. Sure, it may not have quite the scope and sweep of a Symphony of the night, but damn if it doesn’t still represent.. like… sistine chapel levels of dedication.

Gorgeous art, tight controls, even up to and including one of the most ram bam slam final epic boss fights and conclusions I’ve played in a Metroidvania title. Who the heck IS this guy? He deserves a gold star, or at least all the money that people a popular one man show on XBLA can provide.

Sorry for the wait on the podcast, but they’s a lot of games in there. Might be Alpha Protocol next – many have made a good case for it.

… after Toyko Jungle, of course.