Quite possibly the best day of the year, International Ninja Day will be stalking us all on December 5th. However when it comes to celebrating this most revered of days, it won’t feel quite like International Ninja Day without some absolutely belting ninja games to play. So without further ado, here are our favourite ninja games to celebrate those endlessly cool, ultra-acrobatic assassins that we all seemingly cannot get enough of.
Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
It remains a permanently baffling curio as to just why the superb Tenchu franchise was left to fade into the shadows like its titular heroes. It’s especially odd considering the sizable following that the first game in the series, Tenchu: Stealth Assassins, still enjoys to this day. Taking place during feudal Japan, Tenchu: Stealth Assassins delighted PS1 owners everywhere with its delicious combination of grappling hook traversal, tactical stealth and hyper violent assassinations. The quintessential ninja game, Tenchu: Stealth Assassins was a great example of how to do murderous stealth right.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Dark Souls + ninjas = profit? Well, yes, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice did make absolute stacks of cash for developer FROM Software, but more than that it also showed that the seemingly timeless (and sort of plodding) Dark Souls formula could be meaningfully amalgamated with the high-octane shenanigans that one would normally associate with the ninja folk.
From arguably one of the most satisfying combat systems ever that is predicated on split-second timing, to the hyper-agility afforded to the main protagonist (thanks in no small part to his trusty grappling hook) and the range of deadly monsters that you’ll tangle with, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice isn’t just Game of the Year material. It also happens to be one of the best ninja games money can buy.
Ghost of Tsushima
So here’s the thing. Rather than being solely classified as a ninja game in the strictest sense, Ghost of Tsushima blurs the line somewhat, allowing players to decide whether to take on the invading Mongol horde with confrontation and honor as a samurai, or strike from the shadows as a ninja (though they’re never actually referred to as such in the game).
Essentially a hybrid of the two approaches, Ghost of Tsushima’s breathtaking combat, ample player agility and its gorgeous depiction of Kamakura-era Japan all lend credence to the fact that the Ghost of Tsushima is perhaps one the best ninja samurai games you’ll ever play.
A two-dimensional ninja extravaganza set in a bleak, neo-noir futurescape, Katana Zero casts players as the mysterious Subject Zero. This chap’s a stoic ninja with a mysterious past who finds themselves taking on special murder contracts from a shady figure. With no health bar and just one hit able to wipe out our “hero”, players can more than even the score with Subject Zero’s lightning-fast katana attacks, use of hazards in the environment and, most importantly, their ability to slow down time and predict the future. Got a bit weird at the end there, didn’t it?
Ninja Gaiden Sigma
Team Ninja’s eponymous Ninja Gaiden franchise had to feature somewhere in this guide, and I’m happy not to disappoint. A roaming third-person battler where the goal is to do away with enemies as quickly and stylishly as possible with a range of sophisticated combos, the screamingly-fast Ninja Gaiden Sigma doesn’t have much in the way of stealth. However, it sure makes up for it with buckets of blood, hyper-quick combat and brutally-satisfying close quarter combat.
Quite simply, if you love ninjas (as everybody should) and you’re looking to tax both your reactions and combat skills in equal measure, then Ninja Gaiden Sigma – which is inarguably the best in the entire Ninja Gaiden series – has your back.
Mark of the Ninja
A much more leisurely affair than any of the other ninja games in this guide, Mark of the Ninja is all about planning your approach and taking every step with the utmost caution. Thrust onto a path of vengeance, players must guide the titular ninja through a wide range of two-dimensional levels, keeping out of the light and staying close to the shadows as they murder enemies, hide bodies and use all manner of ninja gadgets to get the job done. Mark of the Ninja is the thinking person’s ninja game, make no mistake.
That’s it for our blog on our favourite ninja games. Let us know whether your favourite made our list over on our Community Forum, or click below to browse the ninja titles on the Green Man Gaming Store!