The Messenger is a wonderful homage to the Ninja Gaiden games of old, with some of the tightest controls that I’ve felt in a long time. Developed by Sabotage Studio and Published by Devolver Digital, it one E3’s Best Independent Game Award of 2018 and this game is worth picking up, especially since you can play it on almost any computer with such a low set of system requirements. You take the roll of a young ninja, whose village and the world around it is besieged by demons, you’re given the task of delivering a scroll, which leads you to jumping, flipping, fighting, and soaring through wonderful and challenging environments along with the hordes of enemies that inhabit them. The Messenger is a truly unique game with such a tight control scheme and how wonderfully self-aware the dialogue is.
Each level is beautifully and thoughtfully constructed with challenging obstacles and enemies. The art style brings back a sense of nostalgia from the olden days of the NES and SEGA, perfectly capturing a realm of games that has begun to be celebrated again, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with going back to your roots. You can track progress through the areas you enter, which have sections and each one of those flows seamlessly into the next as you flip and glide your way through. Did I mention the bangin’ soundtrack is handmade by none other than artist Rainbowdragoneyes himself on the Famitracker? I mean if that’s not enough reason with everything else this game has to offer than I just don’t know what to tell you!
It’s got a good difficulty curve to boot. It’s not too hard in the beginning but it definitely ramps up the challenges to keep you from getting bored. I found myself being surprised every time it seemed like I could get comfortable, the game would add something new in, or mix it up which is wonderfully refreshing in a world of games full of the same old tricks. You gain abilities as you move through the game from a wise shopkeeper who is here to guide and provide info for you if you choose to ask about it. I won’t mention said abilities as not to spoil them, but they open up a whole host of ways to traverse the levels, for the majority of the time there always seem to be multiple ways presented to get through sections of levels and more than you see depending on how creative you can be. I’m a big fan of their respawn mechanic, dead is the life counter, instead you have Quarable, a quirky little demon who revives you and then hangs around to collect the loot you acquire as payment for his deeds and providing the player with wonderful one-liners to keep death a little more light hearted. Quarble and the shopkeeper are joined by an great cast of level bosses and other characters who all have funny and self-aware dialogue as well.
The Messenger truly delivers (get it?) an experience worth checking out whether it’s on the Nintendo Switch or the PC, it’ll will release for $20 on August 30th. With some of the tightest controls of a game in this genre and the wonderful art and witty banter it is deserving of lots of praise and I highly recommend this game as it’s a journey worth taking.
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