Though this is a new side-scrolling hack-and-slash adventure, its gameplay is decidedly old-school, and not just in the way it looks. In The Messenger, you play as a young, largely untrained ninja who must deliver a scroll by traveling through a land under the control of a demon army. Armed with a sword, an ability to jump, and other ninja gear, you spend the bulk of this game smacking demons and figuring out how to avoid their attacks so that you can get close enough to smack them. But as you progress, things get a lot more complicated in how the world is laid out, along with the kinds of demons you have to fight. All of this fast-paced action is done from a side-scrolling perspective, with the kind of low-resolution, pixelated graphics and low-fi keyboard tones most games gave up when they moved from 2D to 3D.
That's not to say that The Messenger doesn't use some modern conventions. When you die, for instance, you start over from the nearest checkpoint, not at the beginning of the level or even the beginning of the game, even though this will cost you gear and cash. The game also has problems that have plagued games since the beginning, such as a lack of clearly explained controls or rules, which can be annoying if you're not familiar with games that are old-school or, well, just old. It's also on the tough side, with no options to change it, though it's not as tough as Dark Souls, Super Meat Boy, or other games that pride themselves on being difficult. Still, if you're old enough to remember games from the '80s and '90s, or young enough that you think games back then are cool again, you'll have a tough time not enjoying The Messenger.