Version Reviewed: 1.0
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Don't be confused by the title; Silent Swords ZERO is no "lite" version. Instead, it's a prequel to a previous release from Oniric Games, and it's a good one. Though simple, this stealth-based game combines puzzle and action elements and will push your ninja skills to their limits.
You take on the role of a stealthy ninja, charged with escaping captivity and slaying the guards who stand in your way. Each level features an endpoint, a number of guards, and a few spots of light that separate the darkness. The guards will typically pace back and forth, and if they see you, they'll kill you instantly...so of course, you'll have to avoid being caught in the light or getting too close without killing them. Later levels also introduce civilians, who must not be harmed.
The control scheme is an interesting one, and while it isn't perfect, it is fun once you master it. A slider on the bottom-right controls your X-axis movement, while a jump button sends your ninja airborne. You can also pull off wall-jumps, though the tutorial leaves you with a spotty understanding of how to do so. For combat, things are a lot more fun. You have to follow a series of slashes drawn on the screen, which represent sword cuts; for example, you might have to slash once up-to-down and once left-to-right in quick succession. As the game progresses you also gain the ability to toss shuriken (throwing stars) and sleeping darts, as well as hiding under the snow.
At its heart, Silent Swords ZERO is a stealth-based puzzle game. Figuring out how to assassinate the guards and what order to do it in is a huge component, as well as mastery of the controls. Sneaking about and using the ninja's brain as well as his brawn is a fun task, and the 25 included levels should occupy you for a while. I do wish that it was possible to replay any level at any time, however; not being able to go back and replay previous levels is a strange omission.
If you like action games that make you think, Silent Swords ZERO is a great choice. The graphics are cute, the controls make it fun, and the levels themselves are well-constructed, though somewhat linear. And anyway, who doesn't enjoy being a ninja?