Stealth Inc: A Clone In The Dark (Vita) Review
Posted by Stephen Randle on 09.02.2013
Unforgiving stealth gameplay meets fiendishly difficult puzzles in this new game from Curve Studios! Stephen Randle has his review inside!
Title: Stealth Inc. Ė A Clone In The Dark
Publisher: Curve Studios
Developer: Curve Studios
Available for PC via Steam, PS3 and Vita (Cross-Buy Title)
The concept of a stealth game has been steadily rising over the last few years. From the roofs and ledges of Assassinís Creed to the cardboard boxes of Metal Gear Solid to the overwhelming technological superiority of Splinter Cell, everyone is trying to make a game where being invisible might be more important than killing your way through every opponent. The only problem is, most stealth games have to have some sort of combat mode, because letís face it, stealth is tricky, and you need some sort of safety net for that time when you mess up, forget to account for that one wandering guard, and suddenly youíre fleeing from a hail of bullets.
Well, Stealth Inc. has found a way to give you a stealth game without all that messy combat. Simply put, if you get seen by anything in Stealth Inc., you are dead. No excuses, no chance to snap some necks before melding back into the shadows, just a burst of lasers and instant vaporization. How do they do it? Itís easy, when your character is nothing more than a personality-less, emotion-less, carbon copied clone, one of hundreds, possibly thousands. To you, death means nothing, because thereís always another clone back at the start, ready to try its hand at navigating the trickiest deathtraps this game has to offer. Hereís a friendly tip: donít get attached, because chances are, youíll see a lot of clones turned into bright splotches of blood before you make it through the multitude of challenges that make up this game.
That red splotch in the bottom right? That was you.
Iíve seen this game labelled as a ďstealth platformerĒ in other places, and while the action is that of a platform game, all running and jumping, at its heart, Stealth Inc. is a puzzler. You need to figure out the best way to sneak past all sorts of tricky obstacles, from shifting walls to all-seeing security cameras to constantly searching laser beams, all without raising any sort of alarm, because like I said earlier, if youíre seen, youíre already dead. Once you figure out the secrets to a level, the jumping from place to place is largely inconsequential, so long as youíre sure you got that timing absolutely perfect.
Did I mention that the game taunts you? Because it does.
Okay, the game isnít completely unbending (although it comes close). Cameras canít see everything, and the game features an abundance of shadows and ways to create shadows that security just canít quite penetrate. Of course, if youíre not in shadows, youíre completely exposed to whatever might be looking for you, and trust me, everything is looking for you. Fortunately, the game provides all sorts of indicators for how visible you might be, right down to the ever-changing colour of your cloneís goggles, which stay green when youíre under cover, but shift to red should you be what the laser guns might call ďfair gameĒ. At that point, if youíre spotted, no reflexes in the world will save you, because when I say that youíre dead before you can react, youíd better believe thatís what happens. Then, itís back to the start of the level, or if youíre lucky, back to a computer terminal that serves as a checkpoint for many of the longer puzzles. Trust me, thereís nothing so frustrating as having to navigate a tricky portion of the game six or seven times, and the checkpoints do help, but the unforgiving nature of the game will still leave some people ready to throw their system through a wall. The good news is, the transition from ďdeadĒ to ďalive againĒ is nearly instantaneous, as the game brings in a new clone right away, without any pesky loading times that might add to the level of frustration.
What canít see you, canít kill you. Hopefully.
Maybe itís just the types of games I frequently prefer, but I would have loved to see this game have some sort of story to tie it all together. While the puzzles are the meat of the concept (and donít get me wrong, they entirely should be), and itís not like you forge any personal ties to your clone character(s), I still found myself wanting to learn more about the world surrounding this game, to know what the clone training program was working towards. While the lack of story isnít a deal-breaker (itís not like Tetris ever felt it needed a story, after all), itís just something I, personally, would have enjoyed seeing included.
- Great concept for a game
- Easy to learn, hard to master
- No load times reduce the frustration of sudden death
- No storyline or depth, just level after level
- Unforgiving challenges arenít for everyone
- The soundtrack is harsh and repetitive, it may appeal to others, but I wasnít a fan
Stealth Inc. is a fascinating concept for a puzzle game, melding stealth with platforming elements to create a fun yet extremely challenging game that, while it may not be for everyone, will definitely attract its share of gamers looking for a completely combat-free stealth game. This game builds a great foundation for future iterations, showing that you can have an enjoyable true stealth experience, boiled right down to the essence: if you get seen, youíre dead. Period. While the difficulty may turn off some less experienced gamers, anyone looking for a decent challenge would do well to pick this one up.