Review: Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark

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I’ve pretty much loved every moment…

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I’ve spent several days playing a game that not only kills me very frequently and sends my insides splattering in all directions, but also displays messages on screen telling me I’m rubbish. On top of that, even after I’ve figured out some pretty complex and challenging puzzles and feeling quite smug with myself, I get given a pathetic grade and told that my time was 2 minutes slower than the fastest time of 39 seconds.

And I’ve pretty much loved every moment.

The reason for that is simple: Stealth Inc manages to perfectly blend challenge with accessibility. With additional challenges being introduced little by little the learning curve is perfectly manageable, while the puzzles and levels themselves become increasingly head scratching and unforgiving. Add to that the fact that every level is against the clock and rewards you with an exam-style grade at the end and there’s a lot to be thinking about.

The whole point of the game, born from the previous PC-based (and awesomely named) Stealth Bastard Deluxe: Tactical Espionage Arsehole, is simple in principle. Take control of a clone and try to escape the facility by hacking into a series of computers dotted around each area, all the time avoiding lasers, stroppy robots, turrets and all other manner of dangers. Fail to avoid the dangers and you’ll explode into a satisfying red splash of goo, generally accompanied by a sarcastic message which flashes up on a nearby wall to make you feel slightly more stupid.  Helping you along though is something very simple indeed: light. Or that is to say, a lack of it.

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Keeping to the shadows  is crucial to avoid detection, and keeping an eye on the colour of your goggles will help you to know just how visible you are to nearby dangers. While they’re glowing green you’re pretty much safe in terms of turrets and suchlike spotting you, but step out of the shadows and they’ll turn yellow then red, indicating the relative amount of danger you’re putting yourself in. You can often affect where the shadows fall, either by pushing tall blocks around, hitting switches, hacking terminals or cleverly coaxing robots into certain areas, and this alone forms the basis of many of the challenges throughout the game as you try to keep yourself hidden away despite being right under the noses of the bad things.

Some of the challenges do drift the wrong side of sensible though, and although this isn’t a common problem it was enough for me to give up and fire up another game to take my mind off the annoyance. While the respawn points are frequent and generously positioned there’s only so much dying you can take in the same spot before things get too much, but it’s to Stealth Inc’s credit that I chose to repeatedly go back and try again, and a fresh pair of eyes (or in my case my wife telling me what I’m doing wrong) is often enough to make you realise you were just being an asshat all along.

There are 80 levels in total split across 8 different sectors – a fair amount of content for sure. There’s also a DLC pack (which is still free at the time of writing) which adds another 20 levels with portals that you can use to help yourself out. There should certainly be no concerns about not getting much bang for your buck here, and despite a price of £7.99 you get plenty more game time here than you might from a full time retail game. You get both the PS3 and Vita versions for your cash too, and with your progress synchronising between the two you can sneak around wherever you fancy.

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If you want to get creative there’s a level creator on hand too with plenty of tools to create your own challenges, although unfortunately you can’t share your levels with others, which renders the whole idea far less valuable than it really could have been. And the playing with friends idea is cut short by the leaderboards too, which don’t let you compare your best times with your friends, showing only the top few scores in the world. It’s a shame really; you’re racing against the clock which seems to be the main objective, but you’ll have no idea if your mate has managed to get any quicker.

But despite the little issues Stealth Inc is still a very enjoyable game. It has that always important “just one more go” factor, aided by the vast number of levels and extra skills to unlock when you make it through them all. It looks great, it feels great to play, and has some great humour throughout. It’s certainly a good place to drop your money.

Reviewed on PS3/Vita

Stealth Inc
Stealth Inc
Date published: 2013-08-01
8 / 10
 
 

2 Comments on Review: Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark

  1. Kevling (260 XP - Level 3)

    I was kinda “meh” about this until I saw some footage recently, looks good. Nice review too. Shame they couldn’t come up with a better alternative name though.

  2. Dan Jacobs (265 XP - Level 3)

    Sounds really good, I can normally cope with frustrating games so might take a look, thanks for the good clear review.

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