Stealth Inc 2 is kind of hard work. It’s a challenge, that’s for sure. How much enjoyment you get out of it will be determined by how much you would consider the reward/challenge relationship to be well balanced and release enough endorphins into your brain.
Only available on the Wii U (which is an interesting choice by the developer), Stealth Inc 2 builds on the original sneak em up. Whereas the first pits you against challenge after challenge, Stealth Inc 2 has you in a Portal 2 style scenario. Starting in an open world of sorts, navigating amidst continuous feedback posted on walls as the environment changes you work towards finding test chambers which are your classic ‘levels’.
Your wits are your weapons, as you use the shadows to avoid lasers, cameras and barking dogs. Each set of 8 challenge levels you compete gives you access to new gadgets which will help in future levels. Sections and mini challenges between each level become as difficult as those in the main levels and this gear helps you navigate around and progress – you can creat additional clones, use a decoy, take control of robots and use a lantern to trigger certain panels. This helps to reach some collectibles dotted around the main world, although some backtracking is required to get them all.
Collectables give you opportunity to change your clone’s appearance. The first things I found were a Viking helmet and a chicken body. I put them on and oddly couldn’t not return my clone to default. It was a while before I found the next piece so spent a large part of the game as a chicken. Not a deal breaker but felt a bit odd.
Being a stealth game you expect a fair bit of darkness but there’s a lot of ‘black’ screen in Stealth Inc 2. This makes it a fairly gritty play over long periods – I found playing it on the game pad with my cat sitting next to me a good way to lighten the mood! However as well as atmospheric, the blackness leads to some frustration. I spent a fair while not being able to find my way onto the next section of the open world because there was a dark platform moving into a dark wall.
This frustration is what will make or break the game for some. Often you find yourself encountering a sudden death with a mocking message which can start to bite when there’s no way you can possibly foresee it. Real frustration hits when very precise timing is required, be it avoiding falling objects or moving an enemy into position and jumping over fields of view to catch ledges. Fast precise timing seems at odds with the pacing of the game at times, and it isn’t forgiving at all (and lets you know it). A level editor is thrown in which probably has some potential although I found it a bit too fiddly to use between screen and gamepad.
So – should you invest in Stealth Inc 2? Well if you loved the original you could probably do worse than give this a shot, but perhaps not after a hard day at work – you won’t need the stress!
Reviewed on Wii U