There are no morality choices in Ninja Gaiden 3; you either cut your enemies down or fall in their place.
"A dark hero wants to do the right things, but sometimes he has to do bad things in order to do good. We want players to emphasize with that and to connect with Ryu. In order to do that, players have to act as Ryu and get their hands bloody," Team Ninja lead Yosuke Hayashi told Siliconera.
"We’re presenting this story with Ryu Hayabusa as a dark hero and for players to feel it we need them to get blood on their hands. We want players to feel a connection to Ryu and to do that they have to have blood on their hands too."
If players don't ruthlessly cut down fleeing enemies, they'll break their combos - leaving them without access to Ryu's more extravagant powers during the next encounter. Asked whether there's any way to circumvent this, Hayashi said no.
"It seems like people are looking for a way to be a hero without being a dark hero. They’re looking for a nice way to do things, but with Ryu Hayabusa being a dark hero that is not who he is," he said.
"That’s not the experience we want to give. We want to show his struggles, the way he waivers in what he does. Not just show that, but to have players experience that as well."
Hayashi described Ninja Gaiden 3 as "an action game that appeals to adults", using "action and emotion" to "make a mature audience get out of the game and into the experience".
Ninja Gaiden 3 is due on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in early 2012, with a Wii U version to follow.