Curve Studios’ Stealth Inc: A Clone In The Dark originally started its life as the PC title, Stealth Bastard. Released in November of last year, it was met with good reviews, leading to Curve bringing the game to PSN to see if that success can be replicated.
In its most basic form, Stealth Inc is a 2D puzzle platformer about dodging obstacles and solving puzzles to escape different rooms. However, once you spend time with Stealth Inc you’ll discover the game really doesn’t like you to succeed, throwing everything it can at you from passive aggressive messages to lasers; Stealth Inc is bastard hard.
Don't get attached. He'll die about 1000 times, at least.
It can get frustrating fast but instead of making you want to quit the game, Stealth Inc manages to get into your head. The aim is to navigate the levels as fast as possible while solving the puzzles quickly, and you get a feeling of determination, to prove to yourself and the game that you can complete each test.
You will die and it will happen a lot, sometimes down to your own mistakes and other times due to trial and error. Stealth Inc requires you to be precise with every jump and decision you make. Jump too soon or slightly too far then you’ll die, and that’s just the beginning.
As the game goes on you’ll start to face new challenges like robots with lasers and sensors that can trigger traps. The introduction of such obstacles in each level means that you can’t follow the same kinds of tactics you used before. Every level is unique in how it’s styled and many require quite a bit of thinking time.
Due to the nature of the game, Stealth Inc lends itself to being a title that you can put down quite easily and go back to when you’ve had time to think. There was one stage I became stuck on and at the time the frustration kicked in. I put the game down and went off to do other things. Halfway through making dinner the solution just came to my head and it was so simple that it was brilliant. Dinner went cold while I went back to conquer more Stealth.
A rare encouraging message - they're usually so snarky.
Presentation-wise the levels do give off the vibe of a dark and dangerous factory, with these shady tones mixed with the reds of danger. These are countered by the bright terminals and door openings. The animations run smoothly and the loading times are quick. As well as that, checkpoints are pretty forgiving too, loading almost instantaneously after you die making the game play very smoothly.
One of the best parts of the presentation are the messages that appear in the background – some of those messages encourage you but the majority deride you and mock you for failing. They add personality to the game and also add more drive to the determination to succeed. The soundtrack also fits really well and the tracks, though few, don’t feel repetitive.
- 80 levels to play through.
- The levels, though frustrating at times, are fun to conquer.
- Art and sound design are really well done.
- Leaderboards add an extra incentive.
- Sometimes the solutions are difficult to figure out.
- No leeway when it comes to mistakes; dying over and over can get tedious.
Overall Stealth Inc: A Clone In The Dark is a very good game. When you’re on a roll it feels very satisfying, but when you become stuck it can be frustrating. However, Stealth Inc just manages to keep you hooked to play on and beat it. This isn’t fun in the traditional sense but instead a worthy challenge to beat.