Stealth Inc. 2, as I wrote in our review back in October, is a really clever sequel to the first game’s 2D stealth platforming. It took everything that was great about that first game and then seriously broadened the game’s scope into new directions, and as the game makes its way to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PS Vita and PC, it can now be enjoyed by so many more.
It always starts in the same place; you awake from your vat of life-producing goop alongside a handful of other clones, before the facility’s systems start to weed out the chaff from the wheat in a brutally callous fashion. The first test chamber will be familiar to anyone who’s even briefly played the original too, in which you have to make the cross button bend to your will, so that your clone can valiantly leap over the whirring blade pit, before prevailing in the devilishly tricky process of holding the square button to hack a terminal.
But then the facility shuts down. It was the end of the day you see, and the complete and utter jobsworth that is Malcolm Alderman, Snr. Quality Assurance at PTI Industries, was trying to squeeze in one last test before the end of the day, in order to beat his rival in the office. Suddenly, you’re avoiding the cleanup process, in a brilliant little twist that sees you and a small band of other clones trying to escape certain death. Not many of you survive.
Though the test chambers are still at the heart of the game, with their mixture of trial and error to learn each level’s quirks and then trying to complete them while being spotted as few times as possible, without dying and still beating the clock. They’re just as compelling as before, but they’re wrapped up within this new Metroidvania-style overworld that is PTI Industries, as you foil Alderman’s nefarious schemes.
As you escape the testing facility, it’s into the main corporate lobby that you drop out of a vent, giving you a furtive peek into a world which you should never see, and that’s a feeling which seeps into other aspects of the game as well. From the Inflate-A-Mate inflatable block to the teleporter or whatever gadget you have in your hands, you’re encouraged, nay, required to use them in advanced ways, just to get around the world and unlock new areas.
Early on, it can feel like you’re winning against the game’s design, to discover some of the trickier techniques that each gadget opens to you, but the whole world has been created with that in mind, and it’s the job of the test chambers to teach you how to use them in a high pressure situation, before letting you loose on the overworld to explore new areas at a more leisurely pace.
It’s a slight shame that the co-op gameplay that was an additional treat for the Wii U version of the game is missing on other consoles. This saw a second player take on a supporting role with the Gamepad, while the other played on the screen.
Little tricks like having to input a code read out by the first player while hacking or allowing the Gamepad holder to drag a gadget to the exact place in which it’s needed with the stylus were great little twists on the single player formula, and it’s a shame that they’re missing here whether between PS4 and Vita or Xbox One and Windows tablet. Then again, given the very Gamepad-centric way in which they worked and the relatively minor addition that they make, it’s forgivable at least.
Yet the PS4 version of the game which I was testing threw up another step back compared to the Wii U version. Naturally, there’s no question of relative power between the two, but the PS4 simply didn’t look quite as good. In particular, diagonal edges, whether on background textures, the text projected onto walls or even within the finer details of switches that you trigger all look more jagged or blocky compared to the Wii U. Though dark, the below image shows such jugged edges on the yellow stripes, and you can click on the image to view a larger sample for a brief comparison.
After chasing up the discrepancy with Curve, it turns out the change is kind of intentional, rooted in a system that uses centralised assets between formats and scaled images for posters. If I hadn’t come from the Wii U version of the game, I might never have known the difference. However, another disappointment for those hoping to make use of the wider PlayStation ecosystem is that, while the game is cross-buy, the save files are too large for Curve to make use of the cross-save functionality. In other words, your progress on each console will be quite distinct.
It’s unfortunate that there are a few flies in the ointment with Stealth Inc. 2’s cross platform release, but I would still recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone that has enjoyed the original, regardless of the platform. The game is an excellent follow on, and I wouldn’t miss things like co-op or the slightly more refined graphics if I didn’t know they were there. Having played the Wii U version though, I would have to say that it’s still the definitive version and the one which you should get if you can.