Review by Chocobahn

Reviewed: 03/23/09

Do not be fooled by the graphics, this game is not for those who dislike cutting off limbs.

The Mark of Kri is a strange kind of beast. On one hand, potential gamers might dismiss the game as another 'kiddy game' due to its disney-like graphics. On the other, the gameplay is anything but kiddy. It involves a muscle man, a very large sword and a long neck with which to aim at. The result is somewhere between cartoonish violence and a very violent cartoon.

Plot

Long ago, in a galaxy far far away... wait, let's start over again. Long ago, in a forest far far away, there lives a spell powerful enough to destroy the world a million times over. So, instead of dispelling the spell and be done with it once and for all, an idiotic decision was made to split the spell into six parts called the Mark of Kri, and entrust the parts to six different families who must now fear that someday, an evil force will come and kill the entire family and their dogs to gather the 'Mark of Kri' to do some evil deeds.

Indeed, an evil wizard got the wind of it, and decided that it is time to do that deed. Meanwhile on the other side of the forest, Rau, a barbarian just fresh out of the combat school of beheading, is eager to try his new head chopping skills on some evil people. One thing leads to another, and before you know it, Rau is tasked with finding the Mark of Kri before the evil doer does.

You should have guessed the rest.

Rau + head chopping + evil wizard = The Mark of Kri the game

It is a very cliched good verse evil story. Do not expect much from it. What the story lacks in originality is made up by the entertaining and brutal gameplay.

Gameplay

The Mark of Kri is one of the earlier games in the life of the PS2 that allows players to target multiple enemies. To target the enemies, you rotate the right analogue stick to bring up a beam that you will then pass through a group of enemies. Once selected, each enemy will be assigned a button on the controller which you will then press to engage the enemies in that direction. The type of weapon equipped will determine the number of enemies that can be targeted (up to nine), and the style of attack.

You will start with your good old trusty sword. As you travel through the different parts of the world, you will discover other weapons that will do more damage and perform more violent death.

But being violent does not mean you have to face the enemy head on. You can, and a lot of time, you will attempt to, perform brutal stealth kill. It can range from a simple neck snapping to a more elaborate, violent kill. One involves pinning an opponent to the wall with none other than Rau's sword, another involves jumping down from the rooftop. There are other stealth kill moves which not only graphically satisfying, but useful as well.

Stealth is not merely a gimmick. It is an important part of the game, especially where enemies with blow horns are concerned. Much like other stealth oriented games like MGS, a horde of enemies will come chasing after you if you are discovered by one of these horn blowing foes. So it is advisable to stealth kill these people before they get a chance to call for backups.

But when stealth is a no-no, you will have to face the evil minnows head on. Rau can perform combo attacks (by pressing the right combo buttons) that will not only kill the target in a violent fashion, but also scare those close enough to witness Rau's brutality. It makes you feel powerful as the enemies scream like little girls.

Wherever you go, you will be accompanied by Kuzo, a crow that can act as your eyes, literally. If available, Kuzo can fly to well defined places (such as tree branches). From there, Rau can see through Kuzo's eyes and survey the area before planning your next move. It makes it a very helpful tool in areas where you do not want to charge in head on. Kuzo is also well trained in ancient scripts, pressing switches and distracting enemies.

The story is broken into segments. Each segment is joined together using narration. The narration could be as simple as "And now Rau heads off to so-and-so place". It is a simple yet effective mechanism that holds the story together quite well.

As violent as The Mark of Kri is, you will see blood everywhere, heads being lobbed, limps getting cut off, necks being snapped. Do not play this game if you think cartoon violence should be limited to sticking fingers into nostrils.

Graphics

Graphically speaking, The Mark of Kri is superb. The cartoonish feel of Rau and his adversaries allows the developer to get away with the exaggerated character design. Rau is a bulky man, with biceps the size of a tree trunk. Meanwhile, his opponents are thinner by comparison. Maybe the evil wizard did not feed his minnows well.

The animation works well. Rau's combo, when done correctly, flows smoothly. There are no jerks in between moves. Some of the moves are chilling if done in real life, but satisfying when seen in a video game.

The environment is lush and vibrant. Each world is filled with rightful colour that reflects the location. An interesting insertion is the hand drawn images during the loading screen. Once completed, it becomes the background at the start of each stage.

Some players might experience slowdown during large battles. But they are few and far in between and will not dent the enjoyment of the game as a whole.

Sound

Sound is impressive. The narrator sounds just like any other narrator. It sounds very much like an old man telling the story of Rau and his adventure to his grandkids just before bedtime. Unfortunately, Rau doesn't speak per se.

There are plenty of sound effects, from the sound of the weapons clinking, to the scream that accompanies the sound of death. Under normal situation, the music is calm and gentle, but once the battle has begun, it suddenly becomes fast, heavy tribal drumbeats that reflect the urgency to kill.

Replay Value

There are plenty of things to unlock, including alternative costumes. There are also arenas in which Rau will be pitted against a horde of enemies. There is an issue of repetition. It might be fun hacking off the opponents' heads for the first few levels, but unless you are a sick serial psychopath, you would not want to do that very often.

But overall, The Mark of Kri boasts worthy replay value if you are so inclined to collect everything that is on offer.

Overall

Make no mistake, do not be fooled by its cartoonish graphics, The Mark of Kri is a very violent game. Anyone who thinks otherwise would be gravely mistaken. The targeting system works surprisingly well on the system, and there are plenty of ways to kill the same enemies. If done correctly, Rau can pull off some very smooth moves that will cause his adversaries lots of pain and suffering.

The game is violent, brutal, and at the same time, entertaining. The storyline might need some work, but for this game, at least, the sword wins over the pen (or whatever it is that the developers used to write up the story).

Good:

* Smooth graphics
* Multiple targeting system works well
* Multiple ways to engage the enemies
* Stealth kill

Bad:

* Cliche storyline
* Definitely not for little kids

Score (out of 10)

Plot: 5
Gameplay: 8
Graphics: 8
Sound: 7
Replay: 7

Overall: 8

Rating: 8

Product Release: The Mark of Kri (EU, 03/14/03)

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