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The Messenger, a fun and humorous action platformer with just the right amount of challenge for me

Content of the article: "The Messenger, a fun and humorous action platformer with just the right amount of challenge for me"

Game: The Messenger

Year: 2018

Developer: Sabotage Studio

Publisher: Devolver Digital

Genre: retro, 2D, platformer

maybe an eetsy bitsy tiny bit of minor spoiler ahead


Set in the future where demons already won and rule the world, humans are all dead except for one small village that happens to be inhabited by ninjas… A prophecy is told about a warrior from the west that will come and save them, alas the demon king found the little village, the warrior is too late, and everyone is dead except for one guy. The guy is given a scroll by the warrior, task him with a journey, and he becomes The Messenger.

Revealing more would be spoiler, but all I can say that it'll come full circle… well, not exactly

7/10 — the story piqued my interest from beginning to end, making me want to know what happens, though a bit predictable.


You'll get 2 style of graphics according to the trailer, 8-bit and 16-bit (sorry if this is wrong, my knowledge about bit is only bits and pieces). It's being faithful to the olden games but without undermining the possibility of nice graphics from the current technology… uh, I mean it looks retro / classic / reminisce of the old nes & snes games but not old and definitely a graphics that won't be possible with the technology back then.

8/10 — nothing remarkable, it's graphics, but the tie-in with the story is pretty clever.


It's immediately clear that this is a game inspired from Ninja Gaiden (old ones), fortunately they take whatever works from the game and ditch all the frustrating aspects, including game over mechanics.

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Enemies die in one to three hits, though their placements throughout the levels make sure you get a decent challenge. Bosses have clear and easily recognizable patterns, making this game isn't a particularly hard one on the bestiary aspect.

Oh no, it's not the enemies that's your "enemy" in this game

it's the platforming.

It's nowhere near Celeste level of frustration, but it has its fair share of challenges as well, and I find that challenge is right in the sweet spot of hard but not frustrating. The fact that I managed to finish the hidden location challenges to find all the hidden items, proved that even me–who can't even collect 50 strawberries in Celeste–can complete this game no problem.

Though the levels sometimes really do make sure you use all the techniques in your arsenal, like: cloud jump (when you attack something mid-air, you get a chance to do another jump), rope dart (to quickly grab a wall, or an enemy), wingsuit (slow down your fall and can use wind to lift yourself), etc.

Controls are tight though, so it feels real nice when you manage to do a maneuver.

When you die, you'll get visited by a "demon" that will revive you without limit (though you return to the latest checkpoint) but will stay with you and steal any timeshards (some kind of currency) you collect along the way until you "pay your debt" or the demon "gets bored". You will never get a game over (not in the first New Game at least), and everytime you die, the demon will have a comment and sometimes "tips" on how to not die.

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8.5/10 — all the fun of Ninja Gaiden without the frustration, and just the right amount of challenge in the platforming.


The soundtracks are bangers and will sound different when you're either on the 8-bit or 16-bit graphics. A nice touch.

-/10 — I'm not an audiophile and sound isn't particularly interesting for me in a game, unless maybe it's exceptionally good… or exceptionally bad.

The Shopkeeper

Always, always, always talk to this guy whenever he has a new dialogue and mess around his shop, all the stories he told are gold lmao.

Overall 8/10 — A great testament of nostalgia done well, similar with the game "Shovel Knight". They know what works, improve on it, and throw away what doesn't. This game got the "Best Debut Game" award, and I think it's deserved. Could use more challenging enemies, especially bosses.

would love to see more of this, but the developer's next game seem a bit different, RPG set in the same world of The Messenger and it'll be a prequel, though the game itself is still in kickstarter stage.


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