*Authors Note* Stealth Inc. is a Playstation exclusive on consoles, available exclusively via the Playstation Network. The game supports Sony’s Cross-Buy initiative, so buyers of the PS3 version can download the PS Vita version free of charge. The game is also available on PC and Android devices
We’ve seen a large number of platformers come by over many decades, and whilst the genre has faded in mainstream popularity over the past decade (with the exception of Mario, Sonic and Ratchet & Clank), the indie development scene has jumped on board and with distribution pathways such as XBLA, PSN, and Steam, allowing these smaller titles to shine and Stealth Inc. is one of those titles. From Curve Studios, the developer of such titles as ‘Fluidity’, ‘Explodemon’ and the PSP iteration of the Buzz franchise, comes their latest project Stealth Inc. and it is fair to say that this is their finest game yet.
Parallels will be drawn between Stealth Inc. and 2012’s Mark of the Ninja for the lurk in the darkness gameplay, but where your prowling in the darkness eventually results in illumination and graphic kills in Mark of the Ninja, in Stealth Inc. emerging from the darkness into the light is fraught with danger as it usually results in you being shot down within seconds. Angles, timing and lighting play an enormous roll in your success through many levels as clever positioning of objects create larger shadows to keep you hidden from the constant security presence, be that in the form of cameras (both big and small) or patrols.
You’re a clone making your way through this tight stealth based puzzle-platformer, forget the story, it is minimal and irrelevant, and that is okay because the main attraction here is the gameplay. Tight pathways, perfected timing, inventive puzzles and treacherous hazards are a prominent feature of each level, and successfully navigating these levels is a trial for players of any level of experience. The experience is fleshed out even further thanks to the addition of the leaderboards, with your ranking on these leaderboards contributed to by your level completion speed, and the infrequency of deaths and being spotted by the automated security. The brutal nature of each level means that you will be frequently punished for either poor planning, rashness or poor timing, the positive usually being that you are not forced back too far when you make these mistakes.
Aesthetically the game possesses a lot of charm, the simplistic design is highly effective in ensuring the players focus on the challenges before them but the if you take the time to explore the backgrounds you will notice the game constantly, and quite sadistically taunts and teases you leading up to, and following each death, a feature that is both charming, clever and a little disturbing.
Stealth Inc. isn’t a game that innovates the platforming genre, we have seen stealth based platformers in the past, but the game possesses a sense of style and polish that very few indie developed games have. With Stealth Inc. you’re looking at a game in the upper echelon of indie gaming and with launch DLC and multiple other reasons to re-enter the game only adding to the experience. Available on PSN for PS3 or PS Vita, make it yours now, and be ready for the twist at the end that is both hilarious and slightly disturbing.