Review by Archmonk Iga
Clever gameplay, but "clever" doesn't always mean "fun."
I got a $50 Gamestop gift certificate, and eight of those dollars were wasted on Mark of Kri. It could be because it's an older game, or that it's slower paced, or that it has a strange targeting system... but I don't think it's any of those. I'm pretty sure I didn't like Mark of Kri simply because all these little mistakes were made in its creation that all add up to one very flawed game. I'm mad that Beyond Good and Evil sold poorly. I'm not mad that Mark of Kri sold poorly. Maybe it's just me. But seriously... what do you find redeeming about this title?
Beautiful art, a potentially bad-ass hero, and easily understood controls cannot make up for the lack of a good story (and that God-awful battle tutorial when you first start up the game). "Long ago, an evil spell was" blah blah blah. Can you guess what happens? Correct! The evil spell was kept at bay... UNTIL NOW. Following Rau, the numbskulled, mute, neanderthal protagonist, you must seek out adventure because 1.) Looking for adventure is a good excuse when you don't want to think of a good story and 2.) stop the EVIL. I love it! Rau's character was completely wasted--he doesn't talk, making it seem like you're playing as an all-brawn, no-brains character, which, at least in my case, makes me feel kind of dumb. The other characters can talk... why not the "star?" To be fair though, I really did like the setting of the game. The whole ancient cavemen-type thing is definitely unique.
I love the art style, but I don't think it works well with this game at all. Disney-esque drawings paired with beheading, blood spurting, necks breaking, and anything else violent you can think of does not sound like a particularly perfect match. Still, the animation was fluid and the characters really do look pretty cool. It just never felt right seeing these cartoony characters participate in such crazy violence.
Okay, this is a little better. The locations you are in provide such natural sounds that it's almost unbelievable they're coming from a game. The forests sound just like real forests, with wind blowing and birds chirping throughout. There wasn't a whole lot of music, but the atmospheric sounds made a good replacement. Character voices were decent, but I could not stand Baumusu's voice. Please, someone shut this guy up.
A bit of a mix between stealth and adventure, Mark of Kri tries to add its own little "punch" to make it stand out. Well, it obviously doesn't stand out ("Hey! Who's heard of The Mark of Kri? No one? Hm...), and it certainly does not make for a fun game. If there were any redeeming aspects, it would have to be in the use of your bird, Kuzo, and the neat targeting system. At certain points in the level, you will see markers that you can have Kuzo fly to, where he will then give you a bird's-eye-view (pun intended) of the area. A very original idea that adds a bit of strategy. The targeting system isn't bad either, where you move the right analog stick to shoot a laser, which targets any enemies you point it to, and then assigns them each a button. So if an enemy has a square over its head, pressing the square button will cause Rau to attack that enemy.
This is where the game falls flat on its face. At times you can use a cool combo attack that the game strongly encourages you to use, but the chances of the enemy blocking it? I'd say about 75%, from what I've experienced. So why encourage the combo if it's going to fail so much? The enemies block so much that it gets just plain ridiculous. I can't count how many times I've just shouted "**** that" in mid-battle and turned off my PS2 because I couldn't land a single hit on a single enemy. Call me impatient, but when you're playing a game, you want to progress.
Another problem is with your surroundings. You will be vulnerable to attacks if you hit wood or stone, but apparently you're the only one without a "magical weapon." How come my enemies' weapons never got stuck on the wood? Is it because the developers got lazy? Why yes, it is. It's especially fun since a ton of your fights are in enclosed areas, meaning that with every other attack your ****ing sword/axe/spear is getting stuck while you've got up to a dozen enemies slashing their hearts out at you. Good times!
Then there's the bow, which you shoot at enemies. There was absolutely nothing special added for the bow. Just aim and shoot. Okay, next paragraph.
Sometimes Rau will go into "stealth-neanderthal" mode, where you can sneak up on enemies and watch a pretty animation of DEATH. I'll admit, watching the stealth kills was cool, but there were too few different animations. Not to mention how boring the stealth mode was. Creep up on an enemy and press the X button. No-brainer.
The final problem I had was with the speed of the gameplay. Why does Rau run so slowly? Even worse, why does he have to draw/put his sword away SO dramatically? And why does he have to do so at every single ladder or door? Plus, in mid-battle you'll want to change weapons too. Since he changes weapons at a snail's pace, you might be dead before he can even draw his next weapon. Just take the damn sword out, man! You don't have to look cool when you do it!
The targeting system is a clever idea, but you will get way too impatient after hearing too many blade-striking-blade/wood/stone sounds and not enough blade-striking-flesh sounds. Kuzo isn't even close to enough to make this frustrating game any better.
You could finish this whole game in less than eight hours, making it barely worth a rental. There are lots of secrets that involve having to play more, which I wouldn't recommend. Even the people that like this game think it's too short, so that has to be saying something. Rent it, if you still think you'll enjoy it.
LASTING APPEAL: 3/10
It looks and sounds kinda pretty, but the gameplay is anything but. Mark of Kri is by no means a HORRIBLE game, but it's still pretty bad. Hey! I think I know why they made Rau silent! Because if he could talk, he'd say "Stay away from my game."
OVERALL: 4/10 (4.3 with decimals)
Thanks for reading =)
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