Review: Stealth Inc.: A Clone in the Dark (PS3/PSV)

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Title: Stealth Inc.: A Clone in the Dark
Format: PlayStation Network Download (425 MB)
Release Date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: Curve Digital Publishing
Developer: Curve Studios
Original MSRP: $9.99
ESRB Rating: T
Stealth Inc.: A Clone in the Dark is available on PlayStation Network and PlayStation Vita. It is a Cross-Buy, Cross-Save title.
The PC version of this game, known as Stealth Bastard, released in 2011.

With the video game industry’s modern day focus on Triple-A blockbuster $60 titles, games like Stealth Inc.: A Clone in the Dark can easily fall by the wayside and become lost among the seemingly infinite selection of 16-bit style puzzle-platformers. It takes a fresh approach, ingenious level design, and an original passion to stand out from the crowd. Stealth Inc. employs all of these necessities while creating a challenge unrivaled in the genre. Although the title change to Stealth Inc.: A Clone in the Dark disappointed fans of the original title of Stealth Bastard, “bastard” will probably be the mildest expletive coming from gamers’ mouths during the more challenging levels.

Gameplay:
Without any prior knowledge of this game, you might be inclined to think of it as a stealth experience but it is actually better described as a puzzle-platformer with stealth elements. The protective shadows, machine gun-toting surveillance cameras, and cone-vision enemies that stealth fans love and hate are in full effect; but they haven’t previously been portrayed quite like this. Rather than existing only to prevent players from reaching a destination, these bots serve to stop you from flipping switches, accessing computers, and reaching the golden path that your inner Solid Snake pushes you toward.

Throughout its 80 levels, Stealth Inc. perfectly ramps up the puzzle difficulty and adds trickier gameplay elements at a perfect pace. Apart from a sort of silent narrator whose mocking words of wisdom appear on the environment walls, you won’t get much of a tutorial. The controls are simple enough to support this design choice and in conjunction with the 16-bit style, the good ol’ days of gaming are once again alive and well on the PSN.

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Just when you thought your Metal Gear, Splinter Cell, and puzzle-solving skills were keen enough to get this clone robot through the endless deathtraps, your platforming prowess is put to the test. Luckily, the same love and care that went into Stealth Inc.’s level design and learning curve is apparent in the control scheme. Players can latch onto ledges without holding any buttons and perform some gravity-defying stunts between jumping from moving platform to solid ground.

Visuals:
You aren’t going to get any lifelike graphics that blur the line between this gen and the next one, but there is something to be said about the phenomenal lighting system. By being able to see a large part of the level in one shot, the difference between the dark and lit areas is so clearly portrayed. Your visibility indicator is almost unnecessary as I rarely questioned my state of being.

The art style is cartoony and attractive while maintaining a comedic sense of gore during the death scenes. Phrases like “it’s not rocket science” will appear on walls when repeatedly dying in the same area. Along with the visuals, no load time between deaths and no barrier to the trial and error system will keep players engaged.

Stealth Inc 1

Audio:
With no dialogue and no high-profile voice acting, the soundtrack in a game like this can make or break the experience. It takes a special melody to not annoy the listener when it’s looping over and over.  Not only does the music in Stealth Inc. match the high-tech, robotic scenery, but it causes that subconscious head-nodding that we’ve all fallen victim to when exposed to a catchy tune.

Done in the 16-bit style as well, the sound effects mock classic death tones and are indicative of the gameplay. The cameras, robots, guns, and lasers are brought to life with their respective sounds, characterized by a cartoon style.

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Online/Multiplayer:
Probably the only downfall to Stealth Inc., the lack of multiplayer garners further disappointment because of the game’s in-depth level creator.  The tools may not be as intuitive or user-friendly as Little Big Planet’s system, but they are robust enough to create endless possibilities with a little practice, including the ability to share and download these user-created levels could have immortalized the life and longevity of this game.

Conclusion:
Games like Stealth Inc.: A Clone in the Dark solidify the PSN’s role in current-gen gaming. Full-scale games with tremendous scope are comparatively discussed with 1 to 2GB downloads in this day and age and Stealth Inc. makes its case for the latter. Precision platforming, prompt puzzle-solving, and perfect pacing create an experience that is rare even among retail releases.  Stealth Inc.: A Clone in the Dark represents the reason why downloadable titles have become a regular part of my gaming routine.

Score:
9.0

Written by Emrah Rakiposki

Emrah Rakiposki

– Food
– Video games
– Rap music
It has been my life’s work to properly order the list of this world’s greatest pleasures. There is no right answer.

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  • ChazzH69

    Well wrote. I agree with the online section, it could have made this game a Golden Minecraft contender.

    • Keith Dunn

      “Wrote”? Well wrote?! HAHAHA!
      Anyway… 😉 Nice review indeed!

      • ChazzH69

        Ha, my fault for still being half asleep.

        • embelievable

          Thanks dudes. Great game.

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