One of the best things about being a badass ninja, has to be the ability to cleave through scores of nameless henchmen, mutilating and maiming your way through an ocean of antagonistic meat shields.
But what if each we knew exactly who some of those soon to be limbless minions actually had a back-story? What if they had hopes, dreams and a family to support, and you knew about it? Would you still go ahead on a killing spree of legendary proportions until you reached the end-game boss, or would you spare their lives? That’s something that developer Team Ninja is hoping to explore in the upcoming Ninja Gaiden 3.
Ryu Hayabusa is going to have a more emotional side to him in the sequel, and players will often encounter victims who will beg for mercy when Ryu’s blade is about to tear through them, begging for their lives.
Team Ninja wants to take this further however, and are designing set-pieces, such as one example where Ryu has to kill a man in London, who then goes on to promptly beg, and then begin to monologue about how he regrets becoming involved with the security force that Ryu is fighting against.
Team Ninja’s Yosuke Hayashi was upbeat about the new gameplay feature, when asked if it was at odds with the signature violence of the franchise. "We are keeping the killing style", Hayashi said. “But one of the most important things we want to stress with Ninja Gaiden is ,unmask”.
“This metaphor of a mask, when he takes his mask off he reveals the human inside, what he feels and the consequences he has to suffer for. When he has the mask on he’s a killer, but when he takes the mask off he shows his inner workings”.
In addition to new consequences and unmask features, Ninja Gaiden 3 will also be a more forgiving game, adding in a new easy mode with automatic guarding and evasion, to help newcomers transition to the notorious difficulty of the series.
"What made the old games was the difficulty levels", Hayashi admitted. "What we wanted to do is keep that element, but show gamers that there’s something more to Ninja Gaiden. We wanted to broaden its appeal, while obviously maintaining the notorious difficulty levels for our core players".
The consequences mechanic for Ninja Gaiden 3 sounds interesting, but I’ve never been the type of gamer to be affected by that kind of thing. A begging character pleading for mercy may elicit a response from some gamers, but to me, he’s just another grouping of soon to be dead pixels.
Now if Ninja Gaiden can make the consequences work, it will have to be using the threat of death and violence to gain information or items necessary for the story to progress, instead of some quick, cheap morality meter.