I posted up a review for the game Thomas Was Alone, 1 of 4 games included as part of Curve Studio’s Mega Bundle for the PS Vita and PlayStation 3. The second game I’m reviewing as part of that bundle is Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark. Unlike Thomas Was Alone, this game is actually developed by Curve Studios and isn’t just published by them. The game is a 2D action platformer that revolves around being stealthy and keeping to the shadows.
The game starts off in a research facility where you clone is finally released from its incubation tube along with others just like you. This goggle wearing clone bears a striking 2D resemblance to Sam Fisher from the Splinter Cell games and I guess that’s fitting considering those games are all about being stealthy. What exactly is your clone supposed to do? You’re not really told but it seems like you’re supposed to escape from a series of challenges in the form of different rooms filled with danger at every step. Each room is presented like a puzzle in which you must figure out the correct means in which to escape. This aspect of the game reminds me of Portal which is great because I loved that game so much. There’s even the eerie feeling that someone is watching you and somehow guiding you or baiting you to move forward. You’ll have to use your wits to escape as well as anything you can find to stay hidden.
Since the game is about stealth, the main objective is to stay hidden from cameras that are scattered about. You can do so by staying out of their line of site and by keeping to the shadows. As long as you’re in the shadows, they can’t see you. You need to stay hidden while figuring out a way to escape each room. It’s easier said than done and as you play through each room, the challenge and level of difficulty gets harder and harder.
Each room is basically a giant puzzle. You have to figure out how to activate a series of switches in order to get the door to open. You do so by avoiding cameras and robot drones by making use of natural and man made shadows to stay hidden. You can’t destroy any of these so you’ll have to make use of your environment to the fullest. If you do happen to get spotted, you have maybe a 1-second window before all hell breaks loose. Sometimes, being spotted by cameras causes some kind of environmental change in the level, either blocking off an area of the map or opening up another. That might not be so bad. However, more than likely being spotted means certain death as they will activate traps that instantly kill you.
Your little clone has a few tricks up his sleeve though that will help you along the way. He can crouch and squeeze into tight spots, climb ledges, wall jump (as long as there are ledges to hang from), and push objects around to create shadows. Of course there are also powered up clones you can use, but these can only be used after you beat a level the regular way.
I really enjoy what Curve Studios did here with the art direction. The game itself is pretty much flat, but you do get a feeling of depth thanks to the art. Not only that, this game features some really great lighting effects that also helps in giving it depth. The graphics here aren’t “next-gen” nor are they at the level of a AAA game, but you know what? I love what they did here. The main focus of the game is gameplay and the graphics do not take away from that. Instead, they add to it and it’s what really makes Stealth Inc. stand out in the Mega Bundle. Where Thomas was Alone was as minimalistic you can get in a 2D game, Stealth Inc. features much more detailed environments with more detailed backgrounds and character designs. It still has that old-school 16-bit feeling to it but it works for a game like this that isn’t trying to go for realism. The 2D nature of the art allows it to be more accessible to players while still making the game incredibly challenging.
Of all the games in the Curve Studios Mega Bundle, Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark is probably my favorite. I love the look of the game but most of all, I love the gameplay. It combines elements of some of my favorite games from the past like Splinter Cell and Portal and somehow mashes them up in 2D making one highly fun and addictive game.
For those who want re-playability, this game has it. Each level can be replayed numerous times in order to try and obtain that elusive S-Rank and by trying to find hidden objects, you can also open up additional bonus levels. I also love the fact that completing each level numerous times opens up powered-up clones with special abilities for completing each level differently. Of course if you’re competitive, you can also try your hand at obtaining the fastest times on each level in order to make the leaderboards.
Overall, Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark makes a fantastic addition to anyone who owns a PS Vita. Of course if you purchased the Curve Studios Mega Bundle, you also received the PS3 version of the game so if you want to play on a larger screen, you have that option as well.