Mark of the Ninja OST: The End Song is Offputting

This post is kinda cheaty; to be blunt, there isn’t a lot to the Mark of the Ninja OST; they’ve only posted two songs (both below). During gameplay, you get ambiance that ranges from ominous violin and gong tones to angry taiko-sounding drums and frantic violins. During the cutscenes, for the most part it’s more ambiance so you can focus on the dialogue better. There is one song, however, that I want to talk about.

“Mark & Blade”: the song played at the end of the game.

The instruments used mirror the ones used in the rest of the game; the bells, chimes, and woodwinds that I associate with traditional Japanese music and ninjas in particular. It slowly ramps up as the final character begins to walk to the final confrontation, and as he starts to see the events of the past. It’s a trippy flashback kind of scene where he tries to piece together what really happened, and the music reflects that well. However, I find it offputting.

I think it’s because of the drums. The song starts out with just the bass drum that sounds like the taiko-ish drums used in the rest of the game (please forgive my ignorance on drums), then adds the rest of the modern drum kit. For me, the cymbals really nail home the modern pop/rock feel. Honestly, even though the song has a main vocal line singing in English, I think that makes sense with the epic flashback. I just think it would all work better without – well, without the drum kit. This track uses the same stuff without the drums and it does just fine (but it’s a reprise, so it’s not nearly as dynamic):

In the end, “Mark & Blade” is still a good piece, and I think the fact that it’s different from the rest of the game has some cool implications (the first time he’s thinking straight! The first time he’s thinking! etc). However, I just find that it strayed a little too far from the style of the game, and that messed with my immersion.

  • ControlCentral

    I have not yet played MOtN so I won’t editorialize, but it’s nice to see someone paying attention to, and actually taking time to critique game music! Thanks for the post.

  • Kealokian

    I respectfully disagree.

    I found this song to compliment the final moments of the game really well. The reason I came across this page is because I was trying to find the song!

    Interestingly enough, it was the percussion that really drove the intensity of the moment to me.

    That’s the wonderful thing about music though, we all approach it from a unique perspective!

    • DireMuffin

      Well put.
      I see where you’re coming from; that’s an angle that hadn’t struck me as much, but it makes sense.