Ninja or Die is a blisteringly fast roguelite action game with minimalist controls

Ninja or Die

You only need one button

Ninja or Die is a peculiar name for a game, but I took a look at the ninja-slaying roguelite on Steam and I’m intrigued by… all of this. It’s so fast and flashy, I can hardly keep up.

I’ve watched the trailer for Ninja or Die a few times now, and I’m still piecing it together; slow-mo helps, but I doubt it will fully click until we’ve tried playing it.

Nao Games and Marvelous Europe are hoping to blend “hardcore action” with “simple controls,” and I’m curious to see how that will pan out once the training wheels are off. Specifically, Ninja or Die uses one-button controls. “Jump to where you point, eviscerate the enemy by dashing through them, and hold to attack with greater power.”

The setup is that you’re a secret agent in a “ninja-eat-ninja world” with bosses to bring down and hordes of smaller creeps to cut through. As a roguelite experience, death is a part of the deal and you’ll accumulate perma-upgrades as well as alternate characters. You can power up your stats back at the village or “pay the back-alley doctor.”

Ninja or Die screenshot
Those pesky Big Kite Ninjas.

As opposed to some recent roguelites, Ninja or Die seems to emphasize high scores and replayability over a loop-based format that’s servicing a larger story. On that note, levels are “a mix” of procedural and hand-crafted, and there’s an Infinite Watchtower to run.

The pieces might not all add up in the end, but the strangeness appeals to me. I just hope that when I’m the one leaping around Japan like a madman, I have a better sense of my busy surroundings. From the outside looking in, readability is a concern.

As luck would have it, there’s a browser-based demo to get a feel for it.

Another one for the wait-and-see wishlist? I think so.

Jordan Devore
Jordan is a founding member of Destructoid and poster of seemingly random pictures. They are anything but random.