Review by: Mike Laidlaw
Published: August 5, 2002
If you truly wish to hide something from someone who might want very badly to find it, one of the best ways is to destroy it utterly. This isn’t always the best solution, though, as that item may prove useful or perhaps extremely resilient, and in those cases, it’s always best to hide it in many places at once, so that only those who’ve found every fragment can make use of the discovered item. The Mark of Kri chronicles just such a situation, but instead of finding scattered treasures as its medieval Japanese setting might suggest, your goal will be to keep these items separate. For, you see, The Mark of Kri is one sixth of an incredibly powerful spell that would create a permanent bridge between our world and the dark lands of the demons, and you need to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. Feel up the challenge? Then step into the boots of Rau, barbarian warrior, and let’s begin our journey.
Rau was one of those kids who probably reacted quietly to being called “hefty,” and proceeded to make a grim resolve that no one would ever refer to him that way again. His reaction was traditional, and Rau has become an impressively large lad, complete with huge shoulders, stature higher than any other character in the game, and a sword nearly as large as he is strapped to his back. Having trained under his master’s tutelage for years now, Rau’s heart longs for adventure and The Mark of Kri will hand him just that opportunity.
Your quest begins when a group of bandits set up camp in the forest near your home town. The innkeeper complains of decreasing profits, as travelers either arrive penniless or simply don’t arrive at all. As might be expected, Rau sets out immediately to rectify this situation, however, players new to the game may wish to practice a touch in the tutorial first.
Whichever mode starts your career, it will soon become clear that The Mark of Kri is an action hybrid in the same manner as Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Right there, some eyebrows have probably raised, but rest assured that this isn’t a clone of Konami’s seminal release. You’ll spend a much larger period of time fighting than when filling Raiden or Snake’s boots, and there are moments where straight out bloodshed is the only path to take. Barbarians are known for that sort of thing after all.
There are heavy stealth elements and one of the key mechanics at work here centers around Rau’s link with Kuzu, his raven spirit guide. Scattered throughout the environments you’ll explore, Rau can spot certain locations that are ideal perches for Kuzo, and you can send the bird to these high vantage points. The advantage to this lies with their spiritual link, which allows Rau, and thus the player, to see through Kuzo’s eyes. Anyone familiar with the concept of a third-person sneaker, as opposed to a shooter, will appreciate the advantages this presents, especially when you can move Kuzo’s field of view in the same way as Rau’s.