Stealth Inc. (PS3)

Stealth Inc. (PS3) - Review

by Karl Koebke, posted on 29 July 2013 / 2,521 Views

Stealth Inc. A Clone in the Dark is an independently developed 2D platformer with an emphasis on stealth. You play as a clone who is being tested for unknown reasons, goaded on by an unseen narrator whose comments appear and disappear on surfaces as you play through each stage. It's a great way to introduce a bit of narrative in an unobtrusive way, unfortunately the messages pop up and vanish so quickly at times that I occasionally missed them entirely while I was focused on the task at hand. One way to fix this would be to use voice acting to call attention to the narrator, but this isn't always an option for titles with smaller budgets.

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Other visual hints are better presented, like the blood spattered remains of other clones at particularly dangerous traps. It reminded me of the traps in Dark Souls, where you didn't feel cheated by a somewhat unforeseen death because you're made to think about the hints you should have paid more attention to. That said, there are times where a level requires split second timing and you'll almost certainly get annoyed by the seemingly random placement of the checkpoints. I'm happy to not have to repeat an entire level but there were times when I had to go past the same precursor obstacle that I'd already figured out over and over again until I got the part 15 seconds later just right. It doesn't sound like it would be that irritating, but if you're forced to do it enough times it certainly is. Imagine if you were trying to learn to juggle but each time you attempted to do so I forced you to solve the same crossword puzzle beforehand. After a while you're just begrudgingly going through the motions.

Every stage's goal is simply to hack enough terminals to unlock the door and make your exit, but each new set of levels adds another twist to that. Drones that follow you only when you're in the light, turrets that fire at any sound they hear, and other clones that act as AI cooperative players are all introduced. Specifically I really enjoyed the parts where sound comes into play and you have to be careful about how you move on certain surfaces. There are even boss fights, which is rare for a game totally dedicated to stealth and that doesn't feature any offensive abilities.

Getting through the standard levels took me about six hours, but each set of eight stages also has two bonus arenas that you can unlock. One of these is unlocked by getting an S rank on each one of the eight stages while the other requires finding a collectible helix in each one. You can also unlock new abilities in each stage by completing them several times, but these new abilities can only be used on levels you've already beaten and can't be used to get an S rank, so their utility seems to be solely for amusement. Similarly there's a level creator feature but I didn't find any way to share your levels or download others so its value is limited.

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Stealth Inc. is a fun title which didn't quite amaze me. The narrative shows signs of brilliance and the challenges are interesting when they're not forcing you to go through the same motions over and over again. If you're looking for some 2D stealth action on the PS3 or PSVita this is a good choice, but don't expect anything mind-blowing.

This review is based on a Playstation 3 copy of Stealth Inc. A Clone in the Dark

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