The Messenger Impressions & Quick Look
The Messenger | Platform: Nintendo Switch & PC | Developer: Sabotage | Publisher: Devolver Digital | ESRB: E10+ | Release Date: August 30, 2018
Indie video games have gone through a transformation these last couple of years. They have become exceptionally well made that they sometimes even put high-budget titles to shame in just about every category possible. Shovel Knight, Hyperlight Drifter, Blade Strangers are just a few indie titles at the top of their game with countless hours of content and beautiful aesthetics. Last year I discovered a little action-platformer going by the name of The Messenger for the PC and as a die-hard fanatic of the original NES Ninja Gaiden trilogy I immediately fell in love with everything that was promised by the indie developer Sabotage.
Running, slashing, shuriken throwing, wall climbing, demons, a rocking soundtrack and the “look” of the 8-bit and 16-bit glory days was more than enough to get my hype engine going. Sadly, the game was coming to PC, a platform I rather not dabble too much on because of how difficult it is for me to even manage the time of day to have a set-up comfortably enough for long game sessions.
Luckily, Nintendo showcased The Messenger on a Nintendo Nindie Direct earlier in the year and I was on Cloud 9. I still recall sitting in my car during my hour-long lunch break seeing what I had to look forward to for my trusty Nintendo Switch.
Fast-forward to today, August 30th, 2018 and the game has officially launched for said console. I just about ran out of work into my car to get to my hybrid console to experience what could eventually become one of, if not my favorite indie video game of all time. This year I’ve said this twice with the release of Celeste and Just Shapes & Beats, but The Messenger has one thing above both of those titles: nostalgia.
Ninja Gaiden is the first game I recall playing ever. I was a child. I struggled, obviously, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying that first level and a half of Tecmo’s classic. Many days have been spent of my life trying to perfect Ninja Gaiden where I’ve even had a flawless run once and I’m beginning to get the same sense of satisfaction from The Messenger. The tight platforming, the rocking soundtrack, the level-design is all exilirating to me. I get flashbacks of wall-climbing into a set group of enemies just to slash my way through them and throw shurikens at demons in the distance. This is what an action-platformer should feel like.
To be frank, I was a bit worried about the tone of the game through the trailers that I had previously seen, but I can safely say that the comedy works so well. I thought I wanted a dark and gritty tone with over-the-top scenarios like the original Ninja Gaiden, but the over-the-top scenarios with the touch of comedy through the dialogue (friends and foes) actually made me laugh out loud due to clever writing and funny boss reveals.
Another thing I wasn’t aware of was the skill tree to upgrade your health and abilities. I would have never thought that this style of game would necessarily need something of the like, but it’s a welcomed addition as well.
I have yet to progress too far into the game, but I wanted to inform gamers about this fantastic new indie title that classic video game fans will enjoy. If you grew up or even now enjoy titles like Ninja Gaiden, Castlevania, Megaman on the NES you will most likely fall in love with The Messenger just as much as I have. I know portals or some sort of time travel mechanic eventually unfolds and I cannot wait to see how much that changes up the game for better or worse. If the latter happens I will update you, but for the most part this is easily one of the best games I’ve played this year. Sabotage knows exactly who they are catering this game to and they completely knock it out of the park.