Ninja Legends Review: A Unique Melee in VR (Oculus Quest)

Ninja Legends is an exciting game that challenges players in a new way, especially compared to other melee titles. The game has received far too little attention for what it offers, and it is clear that the developers still care about their product late into its release. The community events, multiple difficulty levels, and satisfying combat will keep players coming back for more.

Ninja Legends Review: A Unique Melee in VR (Oculus Quest)

Ninja Legends is a fun, arcade-style hack and slash that offers snappy feedback and cartoon gore. The title avoids the awkwardness of physics based titles such as Blade and Sorcery by relying on hitscan weapon detection; allowing for a snappier experience. The game is a unique offering, even several years after its release, and in-game community events along with many modes and locations allow for a good amount of replay value. Forcing players to use physical movement instead of thumbstick locomotion, Ninja Legends offers an additional benefit to playing: Players will have to gauge distance and keep track of the enemies around them in order to survive. Ninja Legends is a hidden gem: with the replay value, completive high scores, and snappy combat, players may find a reason to keep this one installed along side their other VR melee titles.

Ninja Legends is currently $19.99 on Steam and Meta stores.

Ninja Legends | Oculus Quest + Rift Platform

Story – Hunting the Legendary Shadow Scrolls

Players will take the role of a ninja whose dojo has come under attack by enemy ninja. The tutorial will introduce you to Sensei and basic melee mechanics. Players will notice that the game takes into account the speed of swings, adding to the physical challenge of the game. After the tutorial, the first level begins with enemy fighters storming the dojo in search of ‘The Shadow Scrolls”.

After you defend the dojo, players will set out to obtain additional shadow scrolls – which become special powers in gameplay – as well as new weapons. The game can be seen as episodic, as each level is a ‘stage’. The game takes players through eastern themed city streets, underground lairs, bamboo forests, and snowy mountains. As players progress, new enemies and combinations add to the challenging gameplay, incentivising improvisation and tactical movement.

Fighting a samurai

Fighting a samurai

Gameplay – A Solid Experience

Ninja Legends is a strong contender for a workout app in your VR library. Due to the lack of locomotion, players will be required to dodge or block incoming attacks without any assistance. The extra challenge adds to the immersion, and encourages players to develop their spatial awareness. Players should keep track of multiple enemies in a 360 environment. By default, snap turning is turned off. Players will also find an ‘obvious bounds’ option in the main menu. I highly encourage players to turn this option on to avoid any unfortunate accidents.

Melee mechanics are handled a bit differently than other physical combat simulators, in that the game does not rely on simulated physics. Instead, the game opts for a speed + range approach. You can test the strength of your swings on the rolled-up tatami map inside the main menu. There are a few ranged weapons as well, the most noticeable being the bow. There is a bow & arrow target mode as well, which offers a different sort of challenge.

Weapons Change the Game

Once players branch out from the default swords, they will discover that weapons dramatically change how you attack and defend. You start out with dual katanas, but can change this later into a staff, fists, claws, warhammer, battle axe, etc.

The staff is a particularly fun two handed weapon that excels at defense. You can ‘twirl’ the weapon in your hands, creating a windmill-like shield that also pummels enemies. The iron fists will make players fight like a boxer, giving a satisfying ‘beat them up’ feel to the game, and the claws will get players playing like wolverine. The battle axe will force you to pay attention to positioning and really plan our your movements. Each of the nine weapons is worth giving a whirl at least once, as one can only appreciate their charm upon trying them.



Special Attacks: Superpowered

The game manages to stay fresh due to the aforementioned shadow scrolls and weapons. As you pick these items up, you will be granted new methods of dealing with enemies. Tired of swords, and want to fight like a boxer? You eventually come across ‘gauntlets’ allowing players to punch their way through challenges. Want to embody wolverine? You will unlock powerful melee claws. Want to use a two handed wood staff? You can do so. All of these new weapons change movement to keep the game fresh and exciting.

The shadow scrolls are special moves, granted by accumulating a certain amount of energy. By pressing both triggers, players can slow down time and fire off three shots with the starter bow. Other abilities include a grappling/stun hook, shadow steps (teleporting to your enemies, you’re already dead), and a dragonball-esque spirit bomb. That isn’t to say that you’ll be underpowered at the beginning. I found that the default abilities and weapons carried me through the end game, indicating that all the weapons are viable. This opens up a lot of player choice in how they play the game.

Bosses Will Push You

Players unlock new abilities after defeating bosses in the campaign. Bosses are quite challenging, and will require players to display some mastery over the abilities they’ve gained thus far. The first boss will challenge you to keep track of multiple attackers, as well as challenge your blocking skills. The second boss will challenge you mentally and physically, as it has deceptive jitsu’s to throw you off guard. The third boss will test your patience and combine elements of previous bosses. Each boss has a new mechanic, but usually incorporates mechanics from previous bosses, adding to the feeling of mastery.

The game excels at making players feel like a competent ninja upon success. I personally noticed that none of the skills gained in previous levels felt useless in the later stages. 

Aside from bosses, players will be challenged by a variety of ninja enemies. You’ll start out facing three enemy types, with recognizable patterns. More enemies, similar to the bosses, will display older mechanics as well as new animations to keep players on their toes. One downside of this design is that once you know how a specific enemy behaves, you can easily predict the enemies movement in the future.

Set pieces are nice, even on mobile hardware.

Set pieces are nice, even on mobile hardware.

Modes – Community, Endless, and Challenge Modes

There are a few modes for each level. For the sake of replay value, there is a global hiscores, as well an ‘endless’ mode. There are also four tiers of difficulty, which change the animation speed of the enemy warriors. Players will find the master and legend difficulties extremely challenging, calling for a mastery of the game on the lower levels.

There is also a community event that changes over time. These events are special stages, designed by the developer. One of the most memorable stages was using a bow to fight a giant, hp-sponge ninja.

Fighting on the rooftops

Fighting on the rooftops

Graphics and Sound – Immersive and Simple

Ninja Legends has a good unified aesthetic. However, the game is a bit cartoonish in style; some players may not like the low-poly look. The game performs well, even on the older Oculus Quest. There are fun, combative tracks to keep the blood pumping and the player moving.

The atmosphere of the game heightens and immerses the player in the feudal eastern setting. Players will hear the ‘clang’ of blades, as well as a variety of weapon-appropriate sounds. (For example, there are meaty dull sounds for blunt weapons, including the fists of iron). Enemies have minimal attack dialogue, but serves as a decent que to know if an attack from behind is coming. In short, the graphics and sound do their job well and in an efficient matter.

Ninja Legends was reviewed on Oculus Quest.

Ninja Legends is an exciting, melee combat game that has flown under the radar for too long. Between the community events, hiscores, multiple weapon types, Players will find that keeping the game installed is worthwhile. Ninja Legends functions differently than other melee combat games, yet still feels satisfying and challenging to play. Players can find a difficulty appropriate for whatever level of fitness that they are, appealing to a wide range of players. Ninja Legends is worth picking up, even on a sale for players not normally interested in the genre.
  • Multiple Difficulties
  • HiScores
  • Satisfying Melee Combat
  • 'Cloned' Enemies
  • Shallow Storytelling

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