Marked Improvement: Mark Of The Ninja’s Special Edition

In which ninjas must deal with treachery, the inevitable march of technological progress, and horrible sunburn.

Guysguysguysguysguysguysguys! HOLD THE PHONE. Are you holding it? Physically? Cradling it, perhaps, like a precious infant or a 20-strong stack of the world’s most delicious pies? OK, good. Here goes: Mark of the Ninja’s adding a mode with non-lethal takedowns. Their absence, if you’ll remember, was one of my only real grievances with what’s otherwise one of the best stealth games in years. This is probably the most exciting thing to happen since man landed on the moon or I built that pie tower earlier today. Oh, but Mark of the Ninja: Special Edition has other things, too – including a new playable character, prequel level, and heaps of developer commentary. Details and some pictures that move with remarkable speed in spite of their baggy stealth pajamas after the break.

Encouragingly, Klei opted to envision what it’s calling a “Criterion Collection version” of MotN, as it felt the transcendentally tip-toeing side-scroller dashed out the gate complete to begin with. So then, what does that mean for you? Some pretty substantial extras, that’s what. Highlights include the afore-breathlessly-bellowed non-lethal takedown mode, two new items, and commentary on every level that will “discuss various aspects of the game’s creation, anecdotes, at least two history lessons, and other behind the scenes info from nearly everyone on the team.” Hurrah!

Oh, and then there’s also an entire prequel ministory to perch plaintively atop this masterfully silent sundae. Klei explained:

“The new level is set in a flashback to the early life of Dosan (the ninja’s tattoo artist) that will set the stage for the events that transpire in Mark of the Ninja.”

It’s slinking onto hard drives this summer for a price that’s yet to be determined. I’m not really sure why, but I guess because ninjas and secrets and stuff. Or maybe just because Klei hasn’t really found time to discuss it. Anything is possible, really. But if we’re talking probable, yeah, it’s almost definitely the thing with the ninjas.


  1. Imperium says:

    I want new achievements.

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  2. Njordsk says:

    I’ll keep my new game+ run for this then.

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  3. 1Life0Continues says:

    Dammit, I bought this only a few weeks ago. Should have waited. *harrumphs and kicks stone*

    Seriously though, very good news.

  4. SkittleDiddler says:

    Here’s hoping that current owners get a free upgrade, or at the very least a discount on the new material.

    • return0 says:

      This article is a bit misleading. From what Klei has said here, this is paid DLC aimed at those of us who have already bought the game and are looking for more content (which I think is a large percentage of people who bought the game, considering how great it is), as opposed to a separate standalone package.

      Considering the ridiculous amount of fun per dollar I’ve had with MoTN, I will gladly give Klei a bit more money for more content.

  5. tobecooper says:

    I pfffft at your non-lethal takedowns. It’s an unneeded middle road. You either a killa or you a stealth god!

    Though I am happy to see there will be more of the game, because it has so much potential and yet no level editor or missions packs. Now, let’s hope they will price this reasonably and provide an option to upgrade for current owners.

    • Low Life says:

      I agree. I’ve come to the conclusion that being able to take everyone out without killing them is a really bad design choice for stealth games, it takes out a lot of the challenge in non-lethal playthroughs of games like DIshonored or Human Revolution (and to a lesser degree, even original DX). Having that as a limited ability – a couple of non-lethal takedowns every level to get you out of tight spots – would be a lot better.

      I can usually restrict myself from using those takedowns, so in that sense it’s all good, but it’s always better if restrictions like that come from the game itself.

      Though I’ve got to admit, a non-lethal takedown is always the most silent takedown.

      • Azophi says:

        Exactly, and emphatically, right. In stealth games, the only real difference – since there is no moral difference to killing or not killing – is an animation change from a splash of blood to lazily drifting Zzz’s. Non-lethal takedowns aren’t any more challenging than lethal ones when bodies can be hidden, or when the punishment for a sleeping guard being discovered is extremely minor (like in MGS, for example).

        Mark of the Ninja’s weaponless playthrough was perfect, and I took that equipment setup (the shadows one, I think) as soon as I could and never went back. It forces you to take rooms full of guards and traps as one big puzzle to be solved, not solving when each individual guard can be killed and dragged safely before moving onto the next. There’s a rush to it that really isn’t present when waiting for an oblivious guard to stand over a vent so you can stab him. If I can bash him with the hilt of my sword and drop him in a vent, am I really upping the ante?

      • tobecooper says:

        Yes, absolutely. As an additional option for tight spots, non-lethal takedowns can work.
        But in the long run there is no difference between killing everyone in the level and non-lethally taking them out. You do the same things in both! And it’s even more problematic in MotN where the points system is massively skewed towards tormenting and killing your enemies.

      • KenTWOu says:

        it takes out a lot of the challenge in non-lethal playthroughs of games like DIshonored or Human Revolution

        Human Revolution has specific level design – spacious rooms with lots of enemies in it, which can clearly see each other. So It’s way more challenging to KO everybody than ghost through every location. In other words, you’re completely wrong!

        • Low Life says:

          I respectfully disagree with you, but you also misinterpret me. I’m not arguing that taking everyone out is always the easiest path to a non-lethal playthrough, but that the ability to take everyone out makes non-lethal approach too easy.

          Continuing on DX:HR, just like there are large areas where guards constantly see each other and it’s easier to just avoid them all, there are also corridors and rooms where getting through becomes a marginal challenge when you can take all the guards down one by one.

          • KenTWOu says:

            there are also corridors and rooms where getting through becomes a marginal challenge when you can take all the guards down one by one.

            I still don’t get it. You don’t like that the game gives you such ability? It’s a stealth game, that’s why you can take all the guards down one by one. There is no connection between this ability and non-lethal takedowns.

      • Juan Carlo says:

        Plus, non-lethal takedowns never make any narrative sense. You choke some dude for 3 seconds and then he falls asleep for hours on end. In reality if you did that they’d pass out and wake up the instant oxygen is restored to their brains about three seconds later. If they didn’t It’d be a sign that they had a severe concussion and will probably die anyway or have severe brain damage, which kind of gave a dark edge to my non-lethal “Deus Ex: HR” playthrough, knowing that I didn’t kill anyone, but did basically turn everyone into comatose, brain damaged, vegetables, leaving their families with the agonizing decision of whether or not they want to keep them on life support or pull the plug.

        Huzzah for non-violence!

        • KenTWOu says:

          non-lethal takedowns never make any narrative sense

          You should play Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. Irivng Lambert will change your mind easily!

        • darkChozo says:

          Non-lethal takedowns typically make narrative sense, suspension of disbelief and all that (well, unless they’re inconsistent within the narrative). They just happen to not match up with reality very well.

          Also, this isn’t nitpicking, it’s pedantry. Duh.

        • Jupiah says:

          This, so much. Non-lethal takedowns only make sense if you are injecting the guard with a syringe of tranquilizers or gassing them with chloroform or casting a sleep spell on them or something. Most stealth games can’t even get that creative and just have you bop them on the back of the head or put them in a chokehold that puts them to sleep for hours, which in real life would almost certainly mean they’ve suffered brain damage and slipped into a coma.

          • darkChozo says:

            As long as I’m playing the pedantry game, a chemical that near-instantly knocks someone out without killing them is just as unrealistic as the tap-to-the-head method of non-lethality. It turns out that making someone close their eyes for several hours is dangerously close to making them close their eyes forever, and that the human body is stubbornly unwilling to react to the same thing in the same way every time.

            Of course, that discounts magic, and techno-biological-future magic. Because wizards/techno-biological-future wizards.

      • Fredrik Sellevold says:

        Indeed! The absence of non-lethal takedowns is actually one of Mark of the Ninja’s great strengths, and not a flaw at all. In order to be stealthy, you have to rely on distractions and and the art of Not Being Seen. And yes, knocking enemies out is effectively identical to killing them. It’s not like they have a rich and rewarding life they can go back to after the game ends anyway.

        One alternative I am in favour of, and which I wished for in both Deus EX: HR, Dishonored and Splinter Cell (excepting the latest one), is to have tranquilisers, or some other limited resource as the only non-lethal way to disable enemies. Or make it costly in some other way; perhaps you have to take the time to subdue and tie them up? That would make it an interesting tactical consideration whether you could afford to be humane/merciful or take the easy path of murder.

        • KevinLew says:

          I really don’t understand why people keep saying “there’s no non-lethal takedowns in Mark of the Ninja” when the game has them even now. With the exception of item or special kills, any time you do a normal stealth takedown on a dog, you actually knock out the dog by punching it. The description in the score even tells you that you didn’t kill it.

          Also, isn’t it entirely possible that non-lethal takedowns are identical to lethal takedowns, except it’s just a style choice? It doesn’t mean that a non-lethal takedown gets you a cheesy method to Ghost run a level. They can rewrite the Ghost requirement from “Not killing any guards” to “No takedowns on any guards”. I need to point out that this is already the case, because I’ve finished a level and only silently punched dogs, and it counts against you in the scoring/achievements.

          Or, they could change non-lethal takedowns to make them harder to pull off, such as taking several seconds to complete–and therefore you’re left vulnerable while doing it.

      • cowardly says:

        It may be interesting to point out that what Klei’s blogpost actually says is this : “A new style of play, which includes a nonlethal takedown ability, and provides a hybrid of lethal and nonlethal approaches to the game.” So it wouldn’t be a generalised thing, only a single ability, limited to a particular style. And it seems intened to be used in conjunction with a lethal, rather than a stealth, build.
        So all in all, maybe it won’t be so bad ^^ Given how well Mark of the Ninja was designed, I’m not too worried.

      • InternetBatman says:

        It depends on the game and the level of self-directed challenge. Maximizing XP in Deus Ex is significantly harder than just doing a stealth run. You have to get the ghost reward as well as all the takedown rewards. This means shutting down turrets, dragging bodies through patrolled areas or areas watched from above, using the right kind of takedown (a front one kills your chance at ghost), running from enemy to enemy with proper timing to make sure they don’t see the last guy, energy bar management, and occasionally having to go ten minutes back in a reload because you didn’t hide a body well enough.

        With stealth, even ghost runs, you’re just sneaking past patrols which is a lot easier. Took me half the time to ghost levels as it did to knock everyone out and ghost levels. If you’re just looking to get out without getting hurt, that’s far easier than either.

        That said, I think tranq darts are a bit of a cheat (but the game changes XP accordingly).

        I’m not saying that takedowns are automatically a good thing. Too often they’re a fudge for a dev that ends of gamebreakingly powerful (like Alpha Protocol). I think autostealth powers are definitely cheap, and almost always used as a kludge to avoid the precision stealth requires. Just include elective challenge, which has always been a huge part of sneaking games, when you evaluate it.

        • Low Life says:

          I still think the self-directed part is a problem. While I can certainly ignore gameplay elements if they make the experience worse for me (like overpowered guns, stupid AI behaviour), I’d love to be able to just play the game with its own ruleset without having to think of my own ways to make the game more enjoyable.

          And yeah, as you said, a “proper” ghost run can also be extremely easy, but that usually requires skipping optional content. Dishonored is a very good example of that.

      • Skabooga says:

        Stick with the pr – stick with the prod. Just in case, though, we’re police.

  6. Feferuco says:

    Wait, is this DLC, an update, a Capcom style Ultimate edition?

  7. Shockeh says:

    One of the few games I’ve felt inclined to buy again – I bought it on 360, and I enjoyed it so much I’m tempted to pick it up again on PC just to A. Support Klei, and B. To be able to play it with even more convenience.

    Hell, I’d even consider an iPad version, though I’ve no idea how it’d work.

  8. Lobotomist says:

    Is it free?

    Hope so , because i am still waiting to play it trough (so many games…)

    • pabraw says:

      I am quite certain at least on XBOX it will be priced (isn’t there somekind of policy of no freebies which only Valve games seem to deviate from) and considering the pricing on XBOX Live I unerstand there is no way to pay less than 400 MS points which is the equivalent of 5 USD. The price of the main game being 1200 MS points / 15 USD it is maybe somewhat steep but still realistic I would say.

      Therefore I assume the price will be 5 USD on PC (or 5 EUR on Steam, as usual). If the Special Edition will be bundled with the original game maybe you would get both for 15 USD on new purchases.

      • HamsterExAstris says:

        There’s been other free ones – though to my recollection, besides the Extended Cut for Mass Effect 3, they’ve been MP additions (Mass Effect 3, Max Payne 3, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, WH40K: Space Marine) rather than SP changes like this.

        • Delusibeta says:

          AFAIK Microsoft’s policy is that you’re allowed to have free DLC if and only if the DLC in question is also free for the PS3. Note that’s specifically the PS3, PC versions don’t count (hence Valve charging for the Left 4 Dead DLC).

  9. Kobest says:

    Can’t wait for this to become DRM-free. Once that happens, I’ll buy it in a minute. I’m hoping we’ll see a DRM-free version, because Shank 2 came out on the Humble Bundle not long after it was released on Steam/XBLA.

    • pabraw says:

      Rather certain it will end up being among HumbleBundle releases, both Shanks have been. Soon …

  10. Solidstate89 says:

    Whoa whoa whoa, a pie tower? That’s a story in and of itself.

    • Tams80 says:

      Yes, yes. This is also news!

      We need to know more! What kind of pies were they? Savoury or sweet? A mix? Meat? Veggie? Fruit? Those pies that are called pies, but aren’t really pies?

  11. derbefrier says:

    Just beat this game over the weekend. It’s very good and more content is always awesome!

  12. tungstenHead says:

    Staring eyes.

    Glaring eyes?

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      came to this comment section looking for this tag suggestion

  13. alms says:

    This is very good news!

  14. wodin says:

    Superb game..that gives you options to progress..get stuck in the building..double back and try the roof etc etc.

    My favourite Stealth game for many many years. I preferred it over Dishonoured.
    I suggest people go out and buy it..

  15. Flea says:

    I haven’t had more fun with a platformer since Manic Miner on ZX Spectrum! This game was a huge surprise for me, came out of nowhere (at least for me, haven’t read much about it before) and then glued me to the computer for hours and hours, dragging me away from any other games until I finished it. It even succeeded in making me do what I almost never do – replay what I have already finished just to do it better than the last time and get more achievements.

    Though I gotta say, when I saw this video, I realized there are people who play it much quicker than me and with more confidence. Also, they use smoke bombs more than me :)

    The only real disappointment for me was the leaderboard, cause it was and still is hacked and full of cheaters with millions of points so I didn’t see any point in having a leaderboard in the first place. I don’t know how and why nobody does anything about it, but really what is the point of uploading your score if you have 30 or 40 thousand points, while the cheater on top has 168 million?