The first of four games advertised in the Playstation Store’s Play 2013 campaign, Stealth Inc.: A Clone in the Dark sneaks onto the scene from Curve, the same studio that brought the delightful platformer Thomas Was Alone to Playstation devices earlier this year. If Stealth Inc. looks familiar, that’s because the game has had several releases prior to its arrival at Playstation Store, most notably as Stealth Bastard on PC.
In Stealth Inc., you step into the roles of an endless supply of clones tasked with sneaking around levels orchestrated with traps, lasers, and turrets as they attempt to stop you from triggering control consoles that allow you to reach the next level. Throughout the eighty levels you’ll try to stick to the shadows and avoid the numerous hazards stopping you from reaching your short-lived safe haven, with each section of levels culminating with a boss battle. If you win, your testing continues in the next level. While your infinite supply of clones have agility, hacking skills, and the ability to squeeze into small areas, those skills are the only defense you have from the variety of instant death you’ll come across. That’s right: you get hit once, and you die.
You can avoid this by paying attention to your enemies’ cones of vision, which is somewhat similar to the maps in the Metal Gear Solid series. There are three types of visual cues: green, meaning that your enemy has no direct line of sight; yellow, meaning that the enemy has seen you and will kill you if no immediate evasive manoeuvres are taken; and red, meaning you’re mere milliseconds away from unfortunate doom. At the bottom of the screen, and by viewing the goggles on your clone, you can take note of the color and status of your stealth, too.
Stealth Inc.‘s level of difficulty is—for lack of a better word—punishing. While relatively easy to begin with, the assortment of levels ramps up the difficulty by narrowing the time window for successfully finishing each level. Navigating a level for the first time? Yeah, you’ll die many, many times. This game won’t hold your hand: it expects you to learn, adapt, and prevail within each scenario. Your timing, reactions, and ingenuity will all be tested, and you’ll need each of these skills in abundance if you wish to advance.
Stealth Inc. justifies its difficulty by providing checkpoints before most of the difficult points in each level. While dying ten times in a row on the same trap can be frustrating, an instant respawn with no load times really helps to throw you back into the action. While you’re dying, hopelessly and repeatedly, text is projected onto the walls to taunt and humiliate you—similar to DmC: Devil May Cry. This is brilliant done, as this antagonizing motivates you to keep trying, no matter how frustrating or demoralizing the difficulty can be, and makes your eventual success that much more rewarding.
The only miscue in Stealth Inc. is its fairly bland level design. While context-wise it makes sense for a testing facility to have the same general layout and colour scheme, this does become tiresome as the game progresses. Levels seem to blend together, and with only a few enemy types lurking around the facility, any visual progression in the game seems minimal—this unfortunate decision by Curve Studios detracts from the otherwise excellent level and trap design. Additionally, the similar backgrounds can sometimes dull otherwise intense moments and draw the player out of a fully-immersive sneaking experience.
As a cross-buy/cross-save title, Stealth Inc.: A Clone in the Dark is a must-buy for those looking for a refreshing take on the stealth genre. While the game’s punishing difficulty may dissuade some casual gamers, each level takes such a fine level of skill to complete, so you’ll slowly start to feel a deep level of satisfaction as you progress. If you want to play one of the best platformers currently available for your Playstation device and challenge your skills as a hardcore platformer enthusiast, Stealth Inc.: A Clone in the Dark is the game for you.
This review is based on a review copy of the Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita version of Stealth Inc.: A Clone in the Dark by Curve Studios, distributed by Curve Studios
- Fun, Fast Levels
- Painfully Addictive
- Monotonus Level Schemes