Review: Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones (Wii U)
Stealth Inc. 1 was a great 2D puzzle platformer game. It had some well thought out level design, puzzles and a follow-able story. It inspired the devs to release Stealth Inc. 2, but as a Wii U exclusive for some reason. Whatever the reason was, it’s definitely to the benefit of the Wii U, let’s see why.
Stealth Inc. 2, as mentioned, is a 2D puzzle platformer. The game takes place in a facility where a ‘crazy’ scientist is creating little clones and running various tests on them. You take control of one of the clones as you attempt to make your way through the facility, pass all the tests and hopefully gain freedom.
Much like the first game (which you should totally play too if you haven’t) the narrative is more of an aside than anything else. There is no voice acting at all while you are treated to video cutscenes of what is happening every now and then. Yes, the story/plot could be better, but these types of games are far more dependent on the gameplay, and in that regard Stealth Inc. 2 definitely triumphs.
Stealth Inc. 2 in essence is your typical 2D puzzle platformer. You need to take your character from one side of a room to another, but of course with lots of obstacles in the way. In Stealth Inc. 2 you will need to overcome many of said obstacles which include security cameras, alarm dogs, bomb guards, turrets, laser beams, spikes, holes of darkness, robot guards with lasers and a whole lot more. That isn’t even mentioning the standard terrain obstacles that stand before you.
Needless to say, there is plenty of variety within the game in terms of level design. So much so that even the main hub is its own level. The facility you find yourself in is scattered with ‘test rooms’ which have the contained levels, but getting to them isn’t simply a matter of walking from A to B. It’s more a matter of discovering your way through different rooms, avoiding enemies, flipping various switches, dying 100 times and then somehow stumbling upon a new level. Okay, it isn’t complex that you get lost (too often) and it really makes it feel like you are playing one massive puzzle rather than just the contained bits.
The facility is broken into different sections to be explored and, after completing each section containing 8 main levels and some secret levels, you will receive a new gadget. Without this gadget you won’t be able to progress further which means you can’t stray too far off the path for those worried you might get stuck in the abyss and never finish the game.
The gadgets add even more depth to the gameplay and level design. You get things like an “inflate-a-mate” which allows you to reach higher areas and you get an adventure light for darker places with light puzzle elements. You’ll unlock a teleporter machine, an extra clone to control and a device which allows you to hijack an enemy. You can only use one gadget at a time. Deciding which to use when in the facility is key to progressing.
In the test levels you will be restricted to the one gadget that is being tested in that specific area. It all works so well and traversing over the different levels towards success is as rewarding as it is frustrating. And boy is it frustrating at times. There are some levels which you will just click on and get through easily. Others you will spend ages trying to figure out, you will pull your hair out, bite your nails and want to throw your control at the screen, only to suddenly realise the solution and wonder why you were getting so frustrated to start with.
That is the key to a great puzzle game, where the balance between frustration and reward is so finely tuned that despite any frustrations you carry on regardless. Stealth Inc. 2 definitely has the ideal balance, and hacking terminals and moving blocks around to avoid impending doom has never felt so great.
All in all there are 6 sections in the game with 8 levels per section that have to be completed. There are some secret levels too which get you some rewards if you can find them. It means the game takes around 6 hours to complete when you consider the main hub is a puzzle too and can take some time to get through.
It may not seem like the longest game, but consider too that each level has a ranking scale assigned to it depending on how many times you die in the stage, how long it takes to complete and saving other clones per stage. Getting the highest ranking will definitely take you more than a try, that is an absolute given. Adding to the duration of the game is collectibles. This is in the form of little suitcases scattered in the facility which have little outfits with which you can customise your character with (mine ended up having Viking horns with a strawberry themed top). And of course these suitcases require some logic in acquiring, which at times felt more difficult than some of the test levels.
It doesn’t end there though as the game, much like Stealth Inc. 1, has community levels which you can try out whenever you want. There is a pretty detailed level editor and there are over 100 levels currently in there to try out, some of them brutally hard, others really easy, but all great fun to attempt. Of course, if your thing is creating levels you can do that too and share ’em with the community to try.
Stealth Inc. 2 includes a co-op mode and a friend can be added at any time to enjoy the
frustration fun. I didn’t get much of an opportunity to try this out because nobody else I know seems to have the game, but adding a random who joined my game for a few minutes was pretty cool and working together does have some advantages. There was lots of dying though…
Graphics wise, it’s what you would expect from the type of game. Cutscenes are more like hand-drawn comic panels than anything else. In-game it’s fully 2D, but with impressive detail around what is in each level. Something that certainly adds to the level design in many ways, without becoming the centre of attention at any time.
There is no voicing at all in the game, but that is almost a blessing considering how amazing the music is. There were many times I would get chills going through different levels purely from the music. It’s such a great score and so suitable for the on-screen gameplay that you just know a lot of thought has gone into it. (Countless times I saw Miiverse messages from others commenting on the music).
Stealth Inc. 2 is quite easily one of the best games of its kind. It maybe doesn’t quite have the same atmosphere as something like Limbo, but the puzzles and gadgets are definitely on par with it. It’s kind of a pity more people haven’t tried it out because it is definitely a game to play if you own the Wii U, especially at its price point.
Stealth Inc. 2 takes everything good from the first game and amplifies it to make one of the most enjoyable puzzle platformer games I have played. It’s insanely addictive and will have you thinking about its puzzles even when you aren’t playing just so you can come back and try other things to try progress. The main thing though, is that it will keep you coming back, even after you finish the main game. Don’t hide in the dark from this one, get Stealth Inc. 2, you won’t be sorry.