Sometimes silliness is okay. If the relatively universal praise for Asura’s Wrath and its over the top action and anime influenced storyline is anything to go by, people are at the point where a bit of fun is really okay. And if anyone knows how to do silly it’s the japanese.
Unfortunately they also know how to do long-winded and convoluted, but I’ll get to that a bit later on.
Ninja Blade is the epitome of silly, fusing over the top quick time event driven action sequences with simple yet mostly serviceable melee combat, to tell the tale of a modern day ninja slicing his way through parasite infested Tokyo to save the world from infection. At least I think that’s what was going on. I couldn’t see for all the explosions and viscera.
And what grand explosions and viscera the game has. But not being content with just settling for copious amounts of blood drawn from the blade of a sword, Ninja Blade outdoes the competition with some of the most ridiculous sequences I’ve ever seen in a video game. Flying through the air, running down (or up) buildings while turning enemies into nondescript piles of blood and bones, and seemingly defying gravity while swinging around with a grappling hook is just the beginning of what the game presents to you throughout the course of the game. At one point you throw a building. Yes, a building. These moments alone are worth enduring a trip through Ninja Blade.
And I say that because other than these moments, the game is rather unremarkable. The moment to moment hack and slashing is derivative and shallow and the story may as well not exist for all the convoluted attempts to evoke an emotional response from the player in spite of the fact that the setting itself is basically just a vehicle to drive a whole lot of killing and whacky set pieces. In addition to this the main character, Ken Ogawa, is just not that cool, which is a problem when your main point of reference is the too good for words Ryu Hayabusa from the Ninja Gaiden series. And this basically sums up the entire game. When compared to other games of its type, Ninja Blade just comes off as over-thought and under-developed in many places.
Despite these shortcomings though the game is redeemed by the way in which is presents a modern ninja tale in a satisfying and interesting way. Sure, Quick time events are no longer cool, and we’ve had better action games before and after the release of Ninja Blade. But the point isn’t that it is better or worse than it’s competition, but more that it’s different and interesting enough to warrant the interest of anyone who is remotely interested in either ninjas, or the choreography of a good action movie. Either way, despite the frustration and boredom you may experience at times, you’ll come away from Ninja Blade at least satisfied that you’ve seen some of the cooler things that video games as a medium have to offer.