Mark of Kri

August 5, 2003

I realize Mark of Kri is not a new game but if you read the news on our site then you would know that I just got around to picking this one up. I was pretty jazzed about it when I first saw it and then I made the massive mistake of actually listening to someone’s opinion on the game. “It sucks man, you don’t want that game”. This was obviously before I had decided that my game taste is unique enough that I have to try out almost every game for myself and not take anyone’s word for it. So I decided to try the game for myself; I traded in Enter the Matrix and got a killer deal on Mark of Kri.

Such Wonderful Environments.

If you don’t know the story behind Mark of Kri, join the club because it has a story line that unfolds as you play. All you know upon starting the game is that Rau, the main character, has grown up at an Inn with his adoptive father. They also reveal something about a dark spell that was broken up and hidden to prevent its abuse. So basically, you have 2 small pieces of the story and the rest is revealed thru the game. Dan Mueller, one of the associate producers, described it like this:

All we can really tell you at this time is that, well, it’s no cutesy fairy tale: I don’t think people are skinned alive in cutesy fairy tales.*

Alright, so we just got a guarantee for some wonderful carnage.

One of the first things you will notice is that the 3d world is absolutely gorgeous. It is not without its flaws though. One of my biggest annoyances with the game was the way that the environment didn’t look seamless. As you are running thru the forest, you can see where each plane of the environment meets as there is a tiny white line that appears enough to bug me. Strike one. I have played plenty of 3d platform and slasher games on the PS2 to know that they probably could have put a little more effort into it and fixed that. Then again, I could just be anal.

Sword meets throat.

The next key thing to the game is the incredibly unique combat system. Let’s suffice to say that it is one of the most flexible and simple combat systems in any 3d game I have played to date. I hate quoting people in reviews, but I really hate doing it twice, but Dan Mueller described it perfectly:

It works like this. While our combat system contains a lot of depth, it is quite easy to pick up and use. Simply sweep the right analog stick toward the enemies, then press the X circle or square button. It’s that simple. You see, by sweeping the right analog stick, a heat beam extends from Rau, the hero, and assigns attack buttons to the enemies it contacts. So if X was assigned to an enemy, simply press the X button, and no matter what enemy you are facing, and no matter where the X enemy is standing, Rau will know just the strike to take him on.*

Running would be a good idea here.

At the start of the game you are forced to endure a tutorial tha
lets you get familiar with the combat system. As you progress you learn just how flexible it is. Your first multi-enemy battles will seem chaotic and you will feel like a button masher, it gets better. While I was a skeptic at first, after using the combat system, I have to give them 2 thumbs up. Awesome job on thinking outside the box.

Gotta look around and make sure nobody saw me pin this guy to the wall w/ my sword.

As for the rest of the controls, they are pretty simplistic and my only complaint arises with the speed in which Rau turns around (180 degree turn).

Somebody lost his head.

One important aspect of the game that I have yet to mention is Rau’s spirit guide, Kuzo. Kuzo is a bird that Rau can use to see what enemies lay in store for him. There are certain perches that Kuzo can land on that are marked. From these perches you can look around and plan your course of action for disposing of said enemies. This is such an important part because you have to determine which weapon and technique will best dispose of the enemies. The importance of Kuzo becomes more clear as you progress in the game. In addition to this role, Kuzo can also retrieve save scrolls, pull levers, and lower ladders that will help Rau in his journey.

I would totally be lying to you if I said that this game was a breeze. The save scrolls do help in quite a tremendous way be allowing you to pick up in the middle of a level. The levels in this game can be incredibly long and require a combination of stealth and all out slashing to complete. You are also given a list of goals to accomplish in each level. Completing these goals unlocks secrets in the game. There will be parts in the game that you will have to play more than one time and it can get frustrating, so use your save scrolls, after all that is what they are there for. As a side note, I don’t have the patience for most stealth games (Splinter Cell, MGS, etc.) and the stealth aspects of Mark of Kri did not bother me one bit. Probably because the stealth kills are incredibly violent and more of a treat than a chore.

I have addressed most of the game, but I will leave you with this, the game is fun. The mix of brutality and stealth are a welcome addition to this 3d action game. The combat system is unique and implemented perfectly. While the game is not without its flaws, I was able to cope with them and enjoy the game. No matter what I have been trying to play lately, I always ended up playing Ratchet and Clank. Mark of Kri actually held my attention and my thirst in a way that allowed me to break free of the chains of 3d platformers for the time being. It is definitely one of the most overlooked games out for the PS2 right now and a definite purchase for all PS2 owners.

*excerpts w/ Dan Mueller taken from this interview

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.