The renaissance of the PlayStation Vita continues as more and more indie titles make their way onto the platform, giving the console’s owners something new to play and the developers another avenue to hawk their wares. One studio in particular crops up a lot during the splash screens of these titles, as either a developer or publisher – Curve Studios. Their latest game to make the jump to a portable console (and home console via Cross-Buy) is Stealth Inc.: A Clone in the Dark – no prizes for guessing what type of game-play it involves.
• Developer: Curve Studios
• Publisher: Curve Studios
• Reviewed on: PlayStation Vita
• Also Available On: PlayStation 3 (also on PC, Mac OSX, Linux and Android as Stealth Bastard)
• Release Date: Available Now
The game begins with you taking control of a clone. While you are initially given no context for why you are in your current location and what you are meant to be doing, you learn quickly that your life is expendable. Tasked with completing a number of levels (over 80 in total), you must make your way to each room’s exit – avoiding the likes of traps, lasers and maniacal robots.
As you progress, you begin to learn more about the facility you are in and what your purpose is. Looking back on all of that, all you need now is a malevolent character behind the scenes ready to dish out snide comments and you have Portal… oh right, that is also present. While Stealth Inc. certainly owes a lot to other titles, it puts it all together in such a good package that you can forgive it.
If you are reading this review and wondering why it is only available now, despite the game coming out weeks ago, I would kindly ask you to get off my back! It’s hard! I died a lot! Normally when this happens in a game, I put it away and vow to never speak of it again. However, in this instance, the challenge never feels unfair – thus leaving you under no illusions as to where the inadequacy lies. Your clone has all of the necessary speed and agility to make it out of the area, unfortunately, the planning and execution is left entirely in your hands.
Despite dying repeatedly, either from being squashed by lowering ceilings or exploding into red mist when you are hit by a laser, one aspect of the game is always appealing – the visuals. The game-play revolves around moving from light into shadow so as you might expect, the lighting is vital to the experience. Thankfully, the Vita’s OLED screen is perfect for displaying the deep blacks and vivid neon lights that make up the game’s environments.
Like Portal, Stealth Inc. also features a presence with a dry sense of humour. In this case, while it does not have the instant appeal of GLaDOS, the omnipotent voiceless spectator does chime in with similarly chastising remarks when you mess up (which will happen a lot).
If you feel like punishing yourself further, the game also has 20 additional levels in the form of the Teleporter Chambers level pack DLC, as well as a built-in level creator. As I am not the creative type, I simply messed around in those modes but the interface does seem to be quite comprehensive. While not on the same scale as LittleBigPlanet’s level editor, there is enough content to be unlocked in the main game to keep you interested.
Stealth Inc. is a lot of fun. It plays well, looks good and gives you all the help you need to progress. Despite this, you will die a lot and this may become irritating to some. My advice is to stay calm, plan ahead… and invest in a wrist strap for your Vita!
Tags: Curve Studios, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Stealth Bastard, Stealth Inc.: A Clone in the Dark