Many times I've seen Ronin
being described as "the bastard son of Mark of the Ninja
". Even though I haven't played any of those for more than a few minutes, it certainly seems to me that Ronin
incorporates elements from both, like the ninja sword action and some stealth elements of the former, and the graphical style of the latter. However I'd also say it's quite different from both of them mechanically: it starts out in real time, but as soon as an enemy spots you it switches to turn-based combat, the real meat of this game. As such, it's highly tactical, almost bordering into puzzle territory: if you choose a wrong move, you're dead.
The game is well aware of its own nature, and right away it tries to dispel any pre-conception the player might have: some of the first hints that pop up in-game include "This is not Gunpoint"
and "This is not a stealth game: just kill everybody"
. Well, that is, everybody who's not a civilian: those you must spare, otherwise you'll fail one of the 3 objectives of each mission (the other ones being killing all the non-civilians, and not letting the alarm to be raised). If you do achieve all 3 objectives you obtain skills points that help you acquire additional (and much needed) abilities, like teleporting, sword throwing, or decoys to confuse the enemies.
Pity that the introductory levels do a much poorer job at explaining the 'rules'. E.g. surely you would expect to be detected if you get into someone's line of sight, right? Wrong: enemies (or civilians, for that matter) will only notice you if you step into a brightly lit area. Otherwise you can stand right before their face and they won't even bat an eye. It took me a good while to realize this and, should it had been taught to me explicitly, it would have made some previous levels quite easier.
Speaking of things being easier or harder, I appear to be in the minority about which control method works best: the general consensus seems to favour a gamepad over keyboard and mouse, as some actions are allegedly more difficult to perform with the latter. But for me k&b is the way to go hands down, for a very simple reason: as counter-intuitive as it may sound, when playing with a gamepad jumps are performed by pointing the right thumbstick in the desired direction and releasing it. Now, maybe it's because the controller I own is too crappy, but everytime I released the right thumbstick the jump arc changed at the last moment and the character leaped in a totally different direction to the one I wanted her to go. So I dropped the gamepad and started using the mouse: my jumping woes were gone for good and I was happy again.
Another thing that seems to annoy many people is the last level. In it, all of a sudden (and again without warning), the rules of the game change:
· No checkpoints (that's bad)
· But getting hit no longer means instant death (that's good)
· Upon getting hit, a 10-second countdown is started, after which you die (that's bad)
· The countdown gets restarted every time you kill somebody (that's good)
· But even if you manage to kill everybody in the level, including the final boss, you won't be able to escape and you'll die (that's bad)
· "...can I go now?"
But what I think many people don't realize is that the usual 3 objectives don't apply to the final level either, so you don't have to worry about the alarm being raised or, more importantly, you don't need to kill everybody
. After understanding this, the level becomes easier (much more than the 2 previous ones) as you can breeze past the different rooms without worrying about the enemies you leave behind. Depending on whether you are hit along the way or not, you'll get a different ending: the so-called 'happy' and 'sad' endings. Not that it makes a big difference, though: just as in the rest of the game, there are no ending cutscenes and the only thing that changes between one ending and the other one is the background photograph.
About that photograph: assuming the main character is the little girl that appears in it, and that the man next to her is the father she's avenging in her killing spree, there are many other people in it who look like potential villains to be slain, but you only get to kill 5 of them. Is that a hook for a potential sequel? Or do they maybe appear in the Game+ mode that unlocks after beating the game for the first time? I don't really think they do, but I'll try to beat the game again in the increased difficulty mode nonetheless to see for myself. It looks like it'll be a tough undertaking, though, so in the meantime I will probably give Gunpoint
or Mark of the Ninja
a try. :) My list of finished games in 2016