The Messenger, the rediscovered review

The Messenger review, a masterpiece in two dimensions that for some reason had escaped our attention, but was worth catching up!

A crossroads of destinies in a strange story, whose memory has been lost in our days, a story of other times, before ray tracing, when people played for anger or passion, but between anger and passion the gap is already growing and who will be the winner is already understood. It was August of the now distant 2018 and a serious, even tragic event happened in the editorial office: the disappearance of an article. Of course, the editor who had written it had also vanished into thin air, but that didn’t impress us very much (oh, one has other things to do besides giving importance to the inhuman screams coming from the warehouse). I mean, it was his first try and we barely remembered the name, so why bother? In fact…what was her name? Forensics will be able to tell us in the next few hours. While we wait for the outcome of the investigation and try to remember what we did that day, just to have an alibi, let’s reread his review of The Messenger, one of the great absentees from these pages (now you know why).

Time jumps

The Messenger must also in genres other than metroidvania

The Messenger by Sabotage is the ultimate expression of gaming nostalgia declined to the future, as it is able to tell the evolution of a genre through its mechanics, slowly transforming what seems like a very simple story of ninjas fighting against demons in a meta narrative compelling and full of unexpected twists. But let’s talk about the story. The game begins in the ninja village where the protagonist is training and is upset by the attack of a giant demon. To stop him comes a predestined hero who, after making him flee, gives us a scroll that we have to bring to the top of a snowy peak. We have become the messengers and we have a mission to accomplish, without taking it too seriously (the tones of the game are very ironic, aware as it is of its nature).

The Messenger in the early hours is proposed as a simple platformer with 8-bit-like graphics, inspired by some classics for NES as Ninja Gaiden and Castlevania.

It’s very well done, but it’s also very linear, at least in appearance. Along the way that you must travel to the first destination are inaccessible areas and hints of secret areas that make it clear that the gameplay hides much more than it appears. The same store, accessible through strange portals, shows the presence of elements initially mysterious, which will reveal their function only with the passage of hours and the achievement of certain objectives. But back to us.

The acquisition of the first powers starts to break the linearity, giving us more control over the character’s movements. Once we reach our first key destination, after overcoming platforms and enemies in large quantities, using the powers of the ninja as climbing walls, the grappling hook or the ability to make a further jump after hitting an enemy or some interacting object (such as lamps), the game opens turning into a real metroidvania, with a map freely explorable in a non-linear way, to go in search of powers and secrets.

The platform mechanics are excellent

The plot also becomes more intricate, with the inclusion of a second timeline, which is represented through a stratagem as simple as it is effective: an evolution of the graphic style that looks to the Super Nintendo. So the ninja gets the ability to jump between eras, one 8-bit and one 16-bit. The effect is fabulous, also thanks to the developers’ ability to exploit the possibilities given by the time jumps (the details of the levels change with the passage of the eras) that create very elaborate moments of play, with puzzles not very difficult to solve, but not trivial either.

Meta videgame

The store has several functions, some of which you'll discover much later in the adventure

It is precisely in this continuous looking back to the past that The Messenger reveals its modern nature: it is as if the developers invited us to play with the history of video games (more like a fragment of it), reworking it in a creative way, without making it heavy. It is precisely this awareness of being a video game that gives an unexpected strength to its storytelling, which paradoxically takes on more and more lyrical tones from level to level, up to a deep and truly excellent ending for dramatic construction and narrative deconstruction.

Of course, it must be said that it is not very difficult, in the sense that the high number of checkpoints makes progression fairly easy. A few more challenging bosses are there, but nothing that can stop an average experienced player for more than a few tries.

How big are you? You're going down anyway!

Let’s say that it is not a real flaw, since it still takes many hours to finish it (we took more than twelve, but finding all the secrets). There is also to say that once finished you can replay it in New Game + mode (sure that at launch was already available? Ah true, you’re dead and you can not answer ed), so who is looking for a more arduous challenge will find bread for his teeth. Finally, to report the excellent soundtrack, really nice and full of pleasant songs to listen to, always in line with the general style of the game.


It’s 2018, but if by chance we were in 2022 (random year) and still hadn’t played The Messenger, we wouldn’t hesitate to do so for a moment. It is an excellent metroidvania and full of remarkable touches, which is worth experiencing in its entirety, at any price it is sold, even 80€ (who knows if video games will ever get to cost that much … unlikely). In addition, given the sympathy of the developers, in the future could also be enriched by a free DLC, perhaps called Picnic Panic, which could add a few hours of gameplay to the game, making it even more valuable. To clarify that ours is only a hypothesis, so take it as such. Meanwhile go and play The Messenger, to think about DLC there is time.


  • Mechanics finished
  • Compelling story
  • A modern and exciting metroidvania
  • Easy enough
  • Have you noticed any errors?

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