Review

Stealth Inc.: A Clone in the Dark

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Stealth Inc.: A Clone in the Dark is the latest indie game for PlayStation 3 and PS Vita to feature Cross-buy and Cross-save support, so for R95 you can download the game on both consoles and access your latest save file regardless of which platform you’re playing on. This is just as well because Stealth Inc. is a game which is likely to consume puzzle-platformer fans until they’ve successfully overcome its challenging levels that combine deadly hazards, environmental puzzles, stealth and hair-raising platforming sequences.

Successfully merging so many elements into one game may sound like an impossible task but somehow Curve Studios has managed to craft a constantly evolving gameplay experience that throws an incredible assortment of challenging scenarios at you over its eighty levels.

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In Stealth Inc. you play as a PTi Industries clone who attempts to sneak through a facility filled with deadly sentries and traps that can destroy your fragile form with just one hit. Armed only with a pair of goggles that change colour according to how visible you are, you’ll need to solve puzzles and hack terminals to reach the exit of each test chamber and move onto the next challenge. Each terminal you hack acts as a checkpoint and you’ll instantly be transported back to it should you be destroyed before reaching the next one.

The first few levels of Stealth Inc. teach you how to stick to the shadows in order to avoid the game’s robotic sentries and thus staying out of their line of sight soon becomes second nature. Stealth Inc.’s gameplay involves a lot more than just stealth mechanics, however, as activating and utilising various types of switches, lasers, teleporters and the like become increasingly important to reaching your objectives as the game progresses.

You’ll also need quick reflexes for Stealth Inc.’s boss stages and later levels where the game’s platforming element comes to the fore. Experimentation is vital for success as you’ll often die during the process of eliminating potentially safe routes to your objectives.

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Stealth Inc.’s puzzle-strewn levels are mostly split up into independent segments each having their own solution, which helps to make the game’s high challenge level somewhat more digestible. That said, at times Stealth Inc. seems designed for masochistic gamers as the path forward is not always clear and you can die countless times before realising that your current course of action is not going to get you any closer to the level’s exit. Thankfully you can skip tough levels if you want to see all the game has to offer although you’ll need to complete new levels to refresh your supply of ‘level skip tokens.’

Stealth Inc. comes with a level editor but at the moment you can only save levels locally which drastically limits its appeal. Hopefully online sharing of levels will be introduced in a future update because it will be wonderful to see what the PlayStation Network community can cook up with the seemingly advanced toolset at its disposal.

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I played Stealth Inc. on both PS Vita and PS3 and can confirm that the handheld version looks just as sharp as the 1080p home console version. There’s not a lot of variety in terms of the look of each level, but a nice visual touch are the informative or taunting slogans that display on certain open spaces of wall as if a projector was shining on them. The game is a great showcase for the deep blacks that are possible on the PS Vita’s OLED screen since many areas in each level are blacked out by shadows.

Something I felt was missing from the PS Vita version of Stealth Inc., however, is the option to zoom in on the action by ‘pinching’ the handheld’s touchscreen like you can do in Rayman Origins. This is a glaring omission as the game was clearly designed to be played on a bigger screen since the side-view camera angle usually frames the level’s full height.

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Stealth Inc. is a superb-sounding PS Vita game, featuring suitably visceral sound effects and a pounding electronic soundtrack that provides an excellent aural backdrop for your rat-in-a-maze antics.

If your focus when playing a puzzle-platformer is purely on gameplay and level design then Stealth Inc.: A Clone in the Dark is unlikely to disappoint. It may prove too challenging and frustrating for some segments of the PS Vita population, however, while others may feel let down by its vague narrative, repetitive visual style and currently hamstrung level editor. How much you enjoy Stealth Inc. will largely boil down to how high you like the heat turned up when playing a new entry in the puzzle-platformer genre.


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