Switch version tested
The Messenger is the perfect game to utilise old school graphics with new technology. The Messenger will make those that were fortunate enough to grow up in the NES/SNES era feel at home. A fun story unfolds calling for a needed hero to save the day. Play as the ninja that has been summoned to save the world by conquering the past and the present, switching back and forth as needed.
Controls feel tight and are exactly how I wanted them to be. Jumps are not dedicated so you can backtrack a bit mid-air. Wall climbing is a free ability upgrade you receive at the beginning, which is fitting considering you’re a ninja. The sword attack is a swift two-part slash that can be repeated any amount of times. Upgrades to attacks can be purchased at the shop. Sword slashing is very satisfying and the hitboxes feel great. Combine all of the efforts and you’ll be platforming through screens, slashing enemies along the way, and enjoying the game.
Collectables found are green health points, green seals from hidden areas, time shards, and blue diamonds to replenish unlocked attacks. Green seals are the difficult collectable to obtain and they are the most fun as well. They may be hidden or placed in a hard to reach area. Once you’ve found yourself in said area, the real challenge begins. Green seal areas will test your skills in ways that force the player to learn new tricks in clever ways. I found myself quite lucky in most seal situations, but we’ll just say I mastered the techniques I learned.
This game has a good difficulty balance that makes it fun and enjoyable to play. You may think the game is too easy and then the game hits you with a timed area, a chase scene, or a boss battle. The chase scenes introduce a multi-screen, almost cinematic experience that was a great way to mix up the gameplay. Boss battles are the best part of The Messenger, very fun and satisfying to defeat. If I didn’t beat the boss the first time that was okay, because I enjoyed the battle and didn’t mind doing it again. More boss battles could and should have been implemented to strengthen that enjoyment.
Boss battles slow down once a pivotal point is reached, and the game takes an elevator drop in fun. Straight to hell. Areas previously explored must be run through again with ill hinted objectives that can be purchased from a wizard. In between bosses, chases and anything of the like, the areas are not special. You literally run non stop to get from one area to the next to get to the meaty parts of the game, so RE-running back and forth again is objectively and subjectively awful. This holds The Messenger back from any of the 9’s or 10 scores I’ve seen other teams give the game. All of the fun comes to a screeching halt and I couldn’t be more dissatisfied.
There is an underwater portion of the game I had to look up to complete, only because it was apparently broken for me. In a multiple choice area of directions to traverse, a specific order must be followed in order to proceed. I read that a sound is made when your character is near the proper route, but that was not the case for me. Those that play with the sound off will come to a standstill, and those that ran into my issue where the “go this way” sound isn’t made, will need to look up a guide. By now this must have been patched but it was frustrating for me so it must be mentioned.
The Messenger had a great opportunity to showcase great graphics, tight controls, and a decent story but ultimately dropped the ball. I went from very eager, can’t wait to play this when I get home, to feeling like I shouldn’t bother playing anymore. Snag this game on sale as the first half is amazing but the back half is terrible.
I really love the art style of The Messenger but the fun stopped abruptly and that holds this game back from a higher score. I’m not convinced other teams that scored this game a ten, played far enough to hit the elevator shaft drop in fun. Looks great, feels great, but The Messenger didn’t follow through with the initial fantastic fun formula it started with.
TBG Score: 5.5/10
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 30/08/2018
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, Action, Arcade
Developer: Sabotage Studio
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Download link: eShop