The Mark of Kri
by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
With Sony having already strung a catalogue of great platformer releases together this year, it is perhaps no surprise to see them switch their attention to another genre. The Mark of Kri is essentially a combat heavy action adventure. If you hate button bashing though you'll be pleased to know that the developers have elegantly created a combat system that has a bit of finesse about it and is not completely about trying to smash your thumbs to pieces.
The Mark of Kri sees you controlling Rau, a tattooed and savage looking barbarian character. Rau is not alone and is accompanied by Kuzo, a large black bird who is also Rau's spirit guide. Rau has to locate the six parts of an evil spell that could be used for darkness and destruction. Originally these parts where looked after by six different families scattered over different parts of the world. Over time though these parts have been lost. It's up to Rau to get these parts back before they are used for evil purposes. In a novel twist to the gameplay you can send Kuzo on ahead to scout for enemies.
The developers were obviously dissatisfied with the current combat systems in the genre and decided to create their own, more refined system. The game allows you to tackle various enemies in one go. By moving your right analogue stick you'll activate a lock beam that can be moved in a full circle around you. Any enemies that are near will have one of the primary buttons attached to them (X, square, circle etc.). By pressing the appropriate button you'll attack the specific enemy. It's a system that works well and for the most part avoids camera problems that often arise in a game of this nature. Once you are in combat a good range of combo moves are possible. You also to get use your archery skills which breaks up the melee combat. Despite the game containing a lot of combat it never feels like an overbearing button masher in the same way as games such as Raging Blades.
There a few aspects of the game that impressed me but the graphics and artwork has to be the one aspect that really shines. Loading screens depict beautiful sketches that blend into the in-game graphics when loading is complete. The game looks like it's based on a Disney movie. In fact it's quite reminiscent of the film Mulan, especially the Huns in the film. The first time you play the game you'll be convinced it's based on a film because it looks that good. It's not of course but it's a testament to the developers great work that it makes you think it is. The developers have also used some nice cinematic effects with the dramatic slow motion, Max Payne style, that occurs when Rau performs a fatal attack.
The only aspect of the game that I can really fault is it's provision for deaf gamers. Despite there being a subtitles option the cutscenes and introduction are not subtitled. The conversations that you have with other characters are not subtitled either. Objectives are shown in text and all tutorial messages are shown in text but this does little to make up for the omissions. The Mark of Kri is a great game but it's a shame that deaf gamers cannot enjoy it in the way it was meant to be enjoyed.
With all the style the game has it's a shame it wasn't longer. There are only six main areas. There are battle areas that can be unlocked though and there are also some extra costumes you can unlock but ultimately it's a game that is only going to be played through a couple of times. Still it's an enjoyable game that is really only marred by it's lack of subtitles.
Game Rating: 6.8/10