- Developer: Team Ninja
- Publisher: KOEI TECMO EUROPE
- Release Date: 10/06/2021
- Price: £32.99 / $39.99 (as part of a collection)
- Review code provided by KOEI TECMO AMERICA
- Note: released as part of NINJA GAIDEN: Master Collection
- Click here for Ninja Gaiden 1
- Click here for Ninja Gaiden 2
Introducing NINJA GAIDEN 3: Razor’s Edge Review
Doing multiple games from this series? I am not sure if I am a masochist or suffering from Stockholm Syndrome from the NINJA GAIDEN series. NINJA GAIDEN 3: Razor’s Edge was one of my childhood favorite games though and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this game with the Master Collection releasing. With my rose colored glasses off, let’s get critical and dive into this review of NINJA GAIDEN 3: Razor’s Edge.
The Organization of Two Names
The entirety of this game’s story takes place over a seven day timeline. A story which sees you traveling all over the world to stop either the Regent of the Mask or the Lords of Alchemy. I say either, but these are really the same group and the game uses these names interchangeably in the first half of the story. Honestly, the interchangeable use of the names just made it harder to follow the start of the plot.
There are two main plot points to the story here, on one hand the Lords of Alchemy want to create a new god to destroy and purify the world. The second main plot point follows from this ideal as they place a curse upon Ryu. The curse is called the Grip of Murder and infuses the Dragon Sword into Ryu, which has been filed with hatred and despair from all of the murder Ryu has committed.
The Story So Far
Every single chapter of this game is prefaced by a loading screen with text explaining what just happened and what is about to happen. I actually enjoyed these screens as I played this game through a couple play sessions so getting that little reminder was really nice. Also, it let me know which of the two characters I was about to play as because just like in the previous titles, you do a handful of missions as a different character. The loading screen was red for Ryu and purple for Akane, which since the two play rather differently it was nice to have a heads up. There are more playable characters within the game, but they do not appear as playable within the story itself.
Change of Game, Change of Combat Mechanics
The overall combat of NINJA GAIDEN 3: Razor’s Edge is the same. Hacking and slashing your enemies with a variety of ninja weapons. However this game has changed several of the main mechanics for the combat itself. First off,they removed items as they have removed the shops, so there is no item menu to use healing items. Alongside the items, they removed the orbs that drop from enemies that could heal you in previous titles. This made the game a lot harder in terms of only being able to heal by casting your Ninpo during combat.
That brings me to the next major change they made to combat which was changing the Ninpo gauge itself. In previous entries you would have a multi-part gauge that you filled and could cast your Ninpo, ninja magic, several times. NINJA GAIDEN 3: Razor’s Edge changes this and gives you a special Ki gauge you fill by killing enemies and getting better gauge building by comboing enemy deaths. This change made boss fights a lot harder though because you got one single heal during the fight and some bosses can combo you from full health to next to nothing if given the chance.
Skill Tree and the Golden Scarab
Another major change in NINJA GAIDEN 3: Razor’s Edge is the removal of a shop for a skill tree. You earn karma points which you can use for weapon and Ninpo upgrades, special combat abilities, and even more costumes. Karma points are earned based on how well you are doing in combat and the later chapters will certainly give you the karma points you are looking for. Mainly because you will go from five enemy single encounters, to twenty or more wave encounters.
So, instead of treasure chests hiding upgrades and orbs, we have Golden Scarabs hidden away throughout the missions. You unlock special weapons, like the Lunar Staff, and health upgrades by finding them. I honestly didn’t care for this by the end of the game. Just felt like I didn’t have enough health by the end of the game because I couldn’t find enough scarabs. So I would say these are pretty well hidden since I combed through those levels.
Digital Challenge Rooms
Challenge rooms are nothing new to this genre, and are all but a staple by today’s standards. The Tests of Valor can be found throughout the various missions and are designated by a crystal skull collectible. These tests usually are multiple enemy waves and then a boss encounter. You do not need to beat these in order to get the skull or continue the story. These exist purely as a bigger challenge and rewards a lot of karma points for completing them. I enjoyed these difficulty spikes a fair bit in the game and usually attempted any that I could find.
Camera Work With Me
Alright, so this camera is leagues better than the camera in NINJA GAIDEN Σ2. There is a sort of lock on for the camera during boss fights that makes dodging around them much easier. Plus less bosses seem to jump behind us and clear off camera. Though the general enemies sure love doing that to you instead. Instead of calling themselves the Lords of Alchemy they should call themselves the Lords of Backstabbing because man do they just want behind you in the worst way.
While I enjoyed the camera for combat more I would say there were still some issues with the platforming in the game. There is a part where you need to do a double running wall jump in order to get to a higher platform. This took me more than a couple minutes because whenever I would go to jump onto the second wall the camera would change angle and then drop me off the wall. Hoping that the day-one patch coming out for this collection addresses this a little because otherwise the camera worked great.
Character Motivation Versus the Story
Honestly, I felt that I had to include a section talking about some character cliches that run rampant in this game. We have the innocent child that exists to be kidnapped basically. The workaholic mother figure. And of course there has to be some sort of betrayal because during the time NINJA GAIDEN 3: Razor’s Edge was released, games in this genre simply had to have some friendly character turn evil for the sake of the story. I am not saying any of this is dated or lazy storytelling, but it is certainly a dated concept that was very predictable to me once they introduced a child into a dangerous situation. There were a few twists that legit surprised me though so good on NINJA GAIDEN 3: Razor’s Edge for going above my expectations.
Sneaking Out Like a Ninja
As I wrap up this review of NINJA GAIDEN 3, a few things stuck out. Man, NINJA GAIDEN 3: Razor’s Edge was just as hard as I remember it being. It was great to go back and hack and slash my way through hordes of enemies again, watching the blood spray. The story itself even managed to surprise me. The changes to the combat in-game, while confusing at first, have been some of the best action gaming I have done in awhile. Now if only the camera could give me a hand with the platforming sections.
- Fun Hack and Slash game play
- Challenge rooms were a blast
- Felt like I was lacking health because of upgrades being locked behind collectibles
- Camera working against the required platforming