Review by Katon
Reviewed: 07/31/03 | Updated: 07/31/03
This is what would happen if Disney went suddenly, horribly wrong.
I must admit that, like most gamers, The Mark of Kri failed to show up on my gaming radar. Sure, I had seen previews for it in several magazines and on some websites, but the game never really struck me as something I would want to buy. One day, however, a friend purchased the game and raved about it for months, reminding me often that I needed to give The Mark of Kri a try. Well, I finally caved in, and I must say that I'm glad I did. I was very pleasantly surprised by this game, and I hope that more gamers give this one a shot, as it sorely deserves a sequel.
Think Metal Gear Solid set in tribal times. Now you have The Mark of Kri. The gameplay in Mark of Kri is as solid and innovative as anything released in the past few years. It is also deceptively simple and fun.
Basic combat consists of wading into a group of enemies, and then using the right analog stick to assign buttons (X, O, square, triangle) to your foes. Then, you will attack an enemy whenever you press the button which corresponds to them. This is a great way to handle combat when you are outnumbered, and it is the first time I have seen developers try something so drastic with melee combat. Now, instead of cowering in fear when you are surrounded, you can smile because it's just another reason to show off your skills. Enemies die suitably bloody deaths, and as the game progresses, you will gain additional weapons to use to slaughter your opponents. Trust me, some of the later weapons are especially cool.
However, you do not have to engage most of your enemies directly if you choose not to. You can also stealthily approach the poor saps who oppose you and wreak havoc among their numbers that way. Your bird companion, Kuzo, can also be used to scout ahead to determine what type of situation you will find yourself wading into. This is highly recommended and is integrated well into the gameplay.
The Mark of Kri also has some unlockables for you to find, but I'll let you discover those on your own. You are also presented with several objectives during the vast levels, and accomplishing those builds toward unlocking other things later on.
I only have a couple of minor gripes with this game. First, the game is too short, even though it has some replay value. There are only six levels, which are huge but are not enough to make the game incredibly long. The other complaint I have is that some areas are too repetitive, especially the final level which I felt relied on one type of puzzle too often.
Still, my gripes are minor, and this remains a very fun game to play.
There's really not much story here to worry about. In The Mark of Kri, you are Rau, a young warrior seeking to make a name for himself. Kuzo narrates the story, but this was obviously not the main focus of the developers. The early levels revolve around Rau's taking various tasks to be performed in the area, and the story does take a twist later on. Overall, though, this is not the reason you'll play this game.
The graphics in this game are brilliantly done. The cel-shading is used here to full effect, and the result is that the game looks much like a Disney cartoon. I usually hesitate to say this, but the graphics are almost reason enough to play the game by themselves. It is very surreal to see characters who look like they were created by the great Walt himself hacking and slashing each other into a big, gory mess! The visuals are not realistic, but they are not meant to be. Colors are bright and vibrant.
Sound is one of this game's strongest points, not that it has many weak ones. The voice acting here is superb, an unusual trait for an American game. The music is also very atmospheric and fits the scenes perfectly. And of course, sound can actually undo you in this game. If you are seen by an enemy armed with a horn, he will blow it and send tons of baddies rushing after you.
The Mark of Kri is a game which can easily slip past you if you are not careful. It almost happened to me. The game may be short, but it is always fun. Considering the game is coming down in price, you will also get some value for your dollar. I really think a sequel to this game, with some tweaking of the gameplay, would be incredible. Unfortunately, the sales numbers don't seem to indicate there will be another Kri, but perhaps Sony will find it in their hearts to give Rau one more chance. If they do, I'll be first in line for my copy.
Overall score (not an average): 8/10
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