Modern game developers can’t help but look to the past for inspiration, and indie devs can’t help but do it as well. And The Messenger that we are reviewing today with its pixelated graphics looks definitely like an old-school inspired game.
Download The Messenger
The Messengers can be downloaded either from Steam or GOG.com. To begin your adventure, click on the Download button located below the review. You should also know that you can additionally get the cool game’s soundtrack.
The Game Review
Whether it is an attempt at recapturing the magic of bygone games or devs taking their own shot at a classic formula, there is something absolutely magical about the games that came out on the Nintendo Entertainment System in the 1980s and early 1990s.
A phrase encapsulates this well, “NES hard,” which denotes a level of difficulty quite common to older systems.
Typically premised upon simple concepts and working with limited hardware, these classic titles pushed gameplay mechanics to the max and, sometimes, players as well.
One of the most challenging games (or series) of the NES era is Tecmo’s Ninja Gaiden.
But it is also one of the coolest video games ever made.
When we talk about difficult games, we’re not often discussing things like Ninja Gaiden and its absurd difficulty. From soaring eagles that come out of nowhere to a limited lives system that means the game is over before it really began, Ninja Gaiden wouldn’t be well received today.
Yet that hasn’t stopped indie developers Sabotage Studio and publisher Devolver Digital from releasing The Messenger, their take on the Ninja Gaiden formula.
Billed as a side-scrolling action platformer in the vein of Ninja Gaiden, The Messenger also sports a crazy, 1980s Japanese action movie plot to tie everything together. But that’s not all: The game is also done up in lovingly recreated throwback 8-bit graphics. In short, The Messenger succeeds Ninja Gaiden in everything but name.
For those who may not be familiar with the Ninja Gaiden formula, the premise is quite simple. As a ninja with a sword and acrobatic abilities beyond those of a normal human, you make your way through stages hacking and slashing at enemies as they approach.
You obtain power-ups that augment your abilities and you can unleash devastating attacks using magic (or “ninpo” in Ninja Gaiden).
The challenge in these titles comes from the sheer art of surviving everything the stage throws at you. Nearly every animate and inanimate object that can attempt to kill our ninja hero.
It is almost nonsensical the level of things the game throws at you but, keeping in mind that the goal here is not to “be fair,” a player can truly start to appreciate the classic “retro” challenge so many people talk about.
A masterfully crafted game from beginning to end, The Messenger will have you longing for the days of classic NES titles…that is, until you play it.
Unforgivingly difficult by modern standards, when you consider the spiritual inspiration behind it, this is not that surprising.
A perfect pickup for fans of the Ninja Gaiden series and classic games in general, The Messenger is a wonderful title that stokes the fires of nostalgia while doing its own thing.
- Ninja Gaiden without being called Ninja Gaiden
- Amazing retro-style graphics and sound
- Gameplay and story are perfect throwbacks to the NES days
- Hard as heck
- Did we say it was hard? It's also slightly unfair
- If this is your thing, why not just play Ninja Gaiden?