The Messenger is a retro-styled 2d-action sidescroller. If you want to be a little savvier, it is basically a Metroidvania game. It is the debut game of a Canadian studio, Sabotage. Let’s see how it sizes up as a game.
The Messenger is just as simplistic as its fellow Metroidvania games. It doesn’t exactly have a lot of variances to things like weapon choices Castlevania series have or special spells. However, in essence, it is part of the charm this simple game has going for it.
There are upgrades such as allowing you to scale and hold on to walls or throwing energy shurikens for some ranged combat. While far more limited, it still has all the tools you need as the ninja to succeed the game and in this case, makes a perfect choice of a game for speedrunners.
That being said, there isn’t much to be said about the gameplay other than it is an elegant and clean game. Sure it doesn’t have complex mechanics or convoluted strategic room but it does make it an easy game to slide into and enjoy it straight from the get-go. The enemies and stage design is just as simple and relies more on the mastery of your gameplay than the particular tool you need to win fights.
There are some unlockable secrets you can try delve in for extra power-ups and bonuses but it isn’t exactly necessary for the playthrough. Because of how it is built as a game, simple nature of the game makes it a great choice for replayability if you want to challenge yourself.
The gameplay, while simple, is incredibly enjoyable. It does make you think a little with what you have to conquer each boss and monster, but that’s what makes The Messenger a game of its own right.
Just like the Gameplay, the story is simplistic with a humorous undertone. The characters are easy enough to like and it won’t have you wrapping your head around crazy subplots most RPGs like to go with. While admittedly the story isn’t exactly the most compelling feature, it isn’t something that’ll make you hang your mouth in disbelief either.
That being said, the story shouldn’t be your ‘main’ reason why you are playing this game, but just listening to what the characters say won’t give you a headache and might even have you chuckle a few times or so.
The game’s story is essentially something you can live or live without in this game and still enjoy it depending on what you are looking for. While I didn’t exactly find the story compelling, it did make things light-hearted and it made itself clear that it didn’t take itself too seriously
Controls and Interface
The game’s controls are very simple, comprising no more than 10 buttons with little ‘combo’ commands. As stated before, the game itself is very simple and as a result, all information is neatly tucked towards the top that tells you HP and other energy gauges for your abilities.
Within a few minutes of playing, it’s easy to figure out the whole thing without a tutorial, giving this game an amazing ease of access. As you purchase upgrades and abilities, the commands are clear on how to execute them as well.
The visuals had a very 80’s styled retro pixelated art. It certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and it wasn’t mine. However, if you are someone who grew up during the 80s and 90s, it would give you that nostalgic hit. However, if you are a fan of pixel art, it certainly has the refinement of a high-level one.
The music is perhaps one of the strongest aspects for the Messenger. With electronic tracks has attuned with the gameplay and it fits the theme of ninjas vs demons strangely enough. The sound design is a great background music and quite frankly, was what made this whole game a solid package.
Sadly, the replayability isn’t amazing unless you are looking for a challenge or speedrunning. There isn’t a lot of variance to what the game can offer when you play it again. The way the game is built, however, does allow interesting ways you can challenge yourself everytime you want to commit to a run, such as ‘no upgrade run’ for example.
The Messenger’s very retro-style and seemingly low resource intense buildup as a game is well-polished. I’ve yet to run into any bugs or glitches and the game runs fairly smoothly. All controls and are responsive and feels like a fluid gameplay the moment I started playing it.
This game is a very smooth, old-school style game. It won’t appeal to some players and it certainly may fly under the radar as well. However, the game is simply elegant and well thought out despite its simplicity and earned a well 3.5 out of 5 Stars.