The Messenger is an Indie game that was recently released on Nintendo Switch and PC. It was created by Sabotage Studio. Now, the game focuses on the journey of a nameless ninja known as The Messenger who must fulfill a prophecy. This may seem simple but stay with me as we review this starting with gameplay.
The gameplay of The Messenger focuses on being an awesome pixelated ninja adventure. For those who played the original Ninja Gaiden, this game shares some similarities. But, The Messenger takes those elements and brings them to the next level.
The Messenger has ninja-like abilities such as clinging to the wall and wall jumping. If you didn’t feel cool enough, abilities such as gliding, grappling hooks, and the most important ability cloud step. The other abilities are self-explanatory; the cloud step allows you to jump again as long as you hit an enemy, object, or projectile with your sword in midair. These core abilities, which are unlocked throughout the game, bring the game’s platforming to a new level. Each enemy and projectile is not an obstruction on the journey, but also an opportunity to display your ninja skills. The map design complements each of these abilities really well. This isn’t the only area these abilities play a role in.
Boss battles also become mini platforming challenges. The game truly tests your capabilities at each and every level. Furthermore, they take time to leverage each and every game mechanic in battle. This keeps the boss battles fun and invigorating. Again, this isn’t the only area of the game that bursts with fun.
As a player, exploration in a game is important. The Messenger continues to spark your curiosity with alternate paths and challenge rooms. When playing the Messenger, you’re always on a smooth car ride that gets better the longer you play. Now, this game is a challenging platformer; expect to die. But, the game makes this easy on you.
There is a fairy of sorts that saves you before you die. Each time you die he brings you back to the closest checkpoint alleviating player frustration. Now, there are even more interesting mechanics, but let’s get into the story.
The story of The Messenger is short and concise on the surface. You are a nameless Ninja. One day your village is attacked. You as the lone survivor are tasked with fulfilling the prophecy as The Messenger. Note, the story evolves as it goes on and I’ll tell you it only gets better. It creates a backdrop that will surprise you. So, now that we’ve discussed the story, let’s talk audio.
The game fulfills that 8-bit and 16-bit retro style sound that is reminiscent of the days of arcades. Honestly, I could listen to the soundtrack of this game on repeat. The design for attacks is also amazing. Each attack, hit, jump all sound great making you feel like a true ninja. The sound design in this game is spot on. None of the sounds feel choppy or off for the aesthetic and theme they are aiming for. Now that I mention Aesthetic this brings to me to the next point, visuals.
The visuals in the game are reminiscent of both the NES and SNES era graphics. Now, that might sound strange at first, but follow me and it will make sense. In The Messenger, the game switches from 8-bit to 16-bit graphics. When this happens the entire aesthetic of the game switches. The game was already beautiful in 8-bit; the change to 16-bit only makes the game’s colors pop more. The varying use of color in the game keeps the artistic backgrounds and look fresh at every level. Now that I’ve taken a moment to talk about each aspect of the game, let’s reach a verdict.
The Messenger is a solid game for players who want a challenging platforming experience. For players who are less interested in platforming, the game offers a solid story that adds depth as the game progress with funny and interesting characters that create a joyful experience. Lastly, the game will last you a good 12 hours or more; it’s certainly not a short game.