The stealth genre goes old-school in this wonderfully inventive platformer/puzzler that mixes appealing character design with fiendish puzzles and cunning level design to create a mobile treat that should not be missed. Previously seen on numerous other formats, including the PC and PS3, with fans worldwide, this iOS port is sure to introduce a whole new group of gamers to its particular delights.
Players take control of a rather odd-looking, but undeniably charming clone who, armed only with a pair of stealth goggles that would make Sam Fisher jealous, must sneak his way through a deadly facility. Death lurks around every corner and everywhere you go security cameras watch even your tiniest move. Hazards are many and varied and come in the form of mobile guard robots, laser beams and moving walls that will squash the unwary as flat as a pancake in a heartbeat. Computers must be hacked and switches flicked to allow you to progress and only by using the darkness as your ally in combination with quick wits and a healthy dash of lateral thinking will you survive the myriad perils and make it safely to the exit.
Stealth Inc. really is a joy to play right from the start, with its distinctive visual style, atmospheric music and humorous approach to platforming instantly drawing players into its bizarre but incredibly appealing world. The initial trial level introduces the core concepts such as moving and jumping but swiftly hands control over to the player, and throws them in at the deep end, forcing them to think on their feet. This refusal to hold players’ hands and explain everything is to be applauded, especially in this day and age of detailed tutorials which take away the pleasure of exploration and discovery. There are however some pleasingly indirect clues to be found dotted around the level, which can help to point players in the right direction if they are feeling a tad lost.
The puzzles on display here show some real ingenuity, with some absolute head-scratchers that reward careful observation, logical thinking as well as swift reflexes, and prove highly satisfying when solved. They are never unfair, and if players die repeatedly it is likely that the blame lies in their own hands and not the game’s. It is certainly not the fault of the controls, which are critical in a game such as this, and which are instinctive, tight and highly responsive. The graphics are simple but effective, with shadowy, subdued environments, and which are enlivened by occasional dashes of neon. The music too is highly atmospheric, lending the game a wonderful sense of urgency which really adds to the pressure.
The eighty included levels will certainly keep players entertained for a long while, but longevity is increased by the inclusion of community designed levels which are also available via a single in-app purchase (note: this feature doesn’t seem to be working at the moment). Stealth Inc. makes for a fantastic mobile experience and is an absolute must play. Don’t expect an easy ride though, as the puzzles can as brutal as they are rewarding, but for those up for the challenge this is addictive fun at its very best.
iTunes link: Stealth Inc