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The Messenger: Ninja Gaiden-like (just about everything, on gamepass now)


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I actually owned the Messenger on Steam already (after it came up in a bunch of GOTY talk last year), but hadn't gotten around to it yet.  It's on GamePass as well now (at least on PC), and it's a pretty awesome throwback to NES Ninja Gaiden games.  Very good soundtrack, and a decent level of challenge that so far (I think I'm about 80% complete) has only had a few points where things are edging into massocore territory.  Looking forward to playing more of it!


Anyway, worth a look, especially if you have gamepass.

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  • 5 months later...

Okay, it's time to do the thing!

I picked up The Messenger on Switch back in November and finally got around to playing it this past week. I finished up both the main quest and the “Picnic Panic” DLC (which is free if you own the game) last night. I 100% completed the main quest, but not the DLC. Total playtime was about 17.5 hours (14.5 for the main quest and 3 for the DLC).

Before hopping in, I knew about the game’s twist — that it started out as a linear action platformer in the style of NES Ninja Gaiden, then, about halfway through, it turned into a Metroidvania that switched between 8- and 16-bit visuals. So, it didn’t surprise me when it happened, but I did enjoy seeing how the developers pulled off the change. The Messenger doesn’t take itself too seriously. It breaks the fourth wall often, acknowledging that it is a video game. The writing and characters are pretty good for a game like this, especially the shopkeeper, who will have conversations with you and tell you stories throughout the adventure.


Overall, I really enjoyed it. it does a lot of things really well. I enjoyed the platforming and boss battles the most. Both offered a fair amount of challenge without feeling impossible. The game’s signature move, the Cloud Step — which grants you an additional jump in mid-air if you slash at an object or enemy with your sword — adds and an interesting twist on the platforming that’s put to good use throughout the adventure. I also like the rope dart (a.k.a. grappling hook), which increases horizontal movement.


 If I have one gripe, it’s that the Metoridvania aspect of the game is not executed as well as it could have been. While I expect some degree of backtracking in this type of game, the amount you do here is borderline annoying. There are fast travel points around the world, but they aren’t as numerous as they should be. Additionally, not every area has a fast travel point, requiring you to travel to a different area first. If you’re trying to collect everything, it can get monotonous to return to the same area again and again.


Still, the the core of the gameplay was good enough to keep me hooked all the way to the very end. Recommended.

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