Thomas Was Alone, Limbo, Hotline Miami. All recent best-sellers on the Vita, all indie ports. And now, with Stealth Inc. on the way too, it looks like Sony may have found the niche for their portable progeny. So, can it continue the trend?
Bastard. That’s the word you’re looking for. Stealth Bastard. Tactical Espionage Arsehole. That was the – frankly superb – title of the game you played on the PC. But no, no, no, said Sony, probably. Way too profane. And with that, a competition was held to rename it for its console début. “El Chappo Stealtho” was one suggestion. “Stealth Orgasm” was another. Finally they settled on the oh-so-punny – and far more palatable – Stealth Inc. – A Clone in the Dark. But is this the only compromise Curve had to make?
Thankfully, it would appear so. Stealth whatever-it-is looks, sounds and feels like an even better game than before, just for being on the Vita. Much like those other aforementioned games, there’s something about it that just feels so at home on Sony’s handheld. Maybe it’s the cool, fluid new controls. Maybe it’s that you can play it without sitting in an office chair. Whatever it is though, it works.
For the uninitiated, Stealth Inc. has you playing as a paunchy clone trying to escape the chambers of your creation. This won’t be easy, of course, what with the army of one-hit-kill robots, dastardly traps and CCTV cameras. It’s basically a puzzle platformer, with stealth (obviously) at the centre – though not the kind of stealth that has you hiding in a locker for half an hour waiting for the baddies to wander off. Speed runs are the name of the day here, slipping as quickly as you can from shadow to shadow while the lab both times you and taunts you.
The game clearly wears its inspirations on both its sleeves, and the hovering exclamation marks and vision cones of the enemies make you fondly reminisce about Metal Gear Solid in a way that you never thought a 2D platformer could. The glowing green goggles are pure Sam Fisher too, and also act as a nice visibility gauge.
Powering through the 80 levels won’t take too long, though, and a second playthrough will be especially quick if you’ve worked hard to collect various suit upgrades, such as a cloak or holographic decoy. On one stage in particular I cut my time down from one and a half minutes to nine seconds. Thankfully, the hardcore elite who refuse to use any equipment get their own separate leaderboard.
There are certainly times when it can frustrate, however, and for the more precise platforming sections I found myself using the D-pad instead of the sticks, though it was nice to have the option. Curve made very little of the Vita’s touch features sadly, save for selecting bits on menu screens, but it’s not a major gripe. They have included the 20 level “Teleport Chamber” DLC for free, so don’t feel too hard done by.
While it may lack the depth and artistry of Hotline Miami – a game to which it is oddly comparable – Stealth Inc. is a fast, fun and polished product, and another small victory for the Vita’s new indie-home crown.
Stealth Inc., by Curve Studios, is scheduled for release on July 23rd for PS Vita.