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It’s a commonly cited gripe amongst gamers that stealth gameplay has been blighted in recent years by the blending of genres, and a relentless industry wide pursuit for the next big action blockbuster. It would seem that Vancouver based development studio, Klei Entertainment, have been listening closely, because their recently released XBLA title, Mark of the Ninja, is a stealth genre purists dream. After receiving an extremely positive critical response, I caught up with the games’ lead designer Nels Anderson to find out about the design choices that defined it, and just how it feels to make a damn fine videogame.
What’s your favourite thing about stealth games in general?
The diversity in approach the type of game affords. The best stealth games are about providing the player with a suite of information and abilities and then letting them approach the game’s encounters as they see fit. That agency, and the pacing that falls out of it, is really interesting to me. It’s very player-centric is a way most action-adventure games aren’t.
Two dimensional stealth games are something of a rarity, why do you think that is? And what was your inspiration to explore the stealth genre in 2D?
I’m not sure why it’s a rarity, but 2D just isn’t very prevalent in general. There have been a few, notably Stealth Bastard and Gunpoint, but they definitely aren’t numerous. Part of the reason might be because the leap from 3D to 2D wasn’t easy at all, so maybe folks tried and bailed? I’m not really sure.