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Ninja platformer The Messenger is out now

The generation game

I am officially declaring this Metroidvania Month. As much as The Messenger is openly inspired by Tecmo's merciless Ninja Gaiden games, a little ninja bird tells me that it, too, blossoms into a non-linear platform adventure, joining a long list of similar launches this August.

Out now, The Messenger is the debut game from new studio Sabotage. Players bounce and stab their way through a linear 8-bit world of demons and big boss monsters, eventually gaining the ability to travel into the 16-bit era and explore. Below, a trailer and a peek at some of Ninja Gaiden's original developers giving it a try.

I'm eager to try The Messenger for myself, as while the dimension-hopping twist seems interesting, what really grabs my attention is its movement options. The wingsuit can slow your falls, grappling hook points allow fast lateral movement and background objects can be smacked with your sword to extend jumps indefinitely. That's only the stuff in the trailers, and it's the kind of thing that speedrunners absolutely adore. While I'm nowhere near that level of dedication and precision, I'm curious how long it'll take for this to end up in a Games Done Quick marathon.

Cover image for YouTube video

Plus, here's a charming little video of Ninja Gaiden's original director and composer - Hideo Yoshizawa and Keiji Yamagishi - taking The Messenger for a spin while sharing some industry secrets.

Cover image for YouTube video

So far as I'm aware, nobody's lined up to review The Messenger here, but a quick poke around reveals a lot of praise for the game already. Some reviews are favourably comparing it to Shovel Knight, which is never bad company to be in.

The Messenger is published by Devolved Digital, and is out now on Steam and GOG for £15.49/16.79/$20. Both 8-bit and 16-bit soundtracks are available, too, if that tickles your ninja fancy.

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The Messenger

PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch

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Dominic Tarason