I’m not usually a fan of stealth games, where there’s always a requirement for tact and patience. I appreciate that the genre exists, but it’s not my preference of gameplay. After checking out Stealth Inc 2 and seeing the hallmarks of a stealth title apply so well to a game like this, it makes me want to explore the genre further.
Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones is a stealth-focused puzzle platform game exclusive to the Wii U. Created by Curve Studios, it is the sequel to Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark as well as the earlier title, Stealth Bastards.
In Stealth Inc 2, you play as a clone that escapes from a shutdown procedure, triggered by a man who obsesses over being the top employee at the Cloning Lab. While escaping each failed attempt of being captured and destroyed, you and all the other clones slowly work their way towards freedom from this man who effectively becomes your foe.
The game allows you to progress through exploration. Instead of a standardised menu selection, all the Test Chambers are scattered throughout a central/primary world. This is an excellent approach and one I haven’t seen before, as it allows the player to be familiarised with the controls and their surroundings before finding a test chamber. Each test chamber features a range of challenges to overcome and are all constructed with the main focus of being a time trial, showing a leaderboard of players online upon completing the chamber. Test chambers can be repeated, allowing you to achieve the best time possible.
While stealth is the theme behind this title, it’s the level design for each puzzle that stands out the most. Each puzzle challenges the player thoroughly and leaves you thinking how to approach it correctly. I could almost liken this to Portal. The game progressively introduces new enemies to encounter, which allows for more creative level designs and further challenges for the player. This is all seen highly in each test chamber you discover, and you start to notice the next ones become slightly more difficult to solve. The stealth hallmarks in Stealth Inc 2 shine where certain enemies force you to be out of their line of sight or exposed to general light. The game also alerts you of your visibility depending on whether you’re exposed to light or in the line of sight of an enemy, adding that bit extra to the overall challenge.
Stealth Inc 2 features a stage editor for those who wish to create their own levels, as well as it has co-op mode to allow a friend to join you in your puzzle solving adventure. Being a Wii U title, Stealth Inc 2 also uses the gamepad. It’s used in co-op, but I didn’t feel it was used to its full potential in single player. Its main purpose is to display the map, and within the map it tells the player where you’ve previously travelled and shows the test chambers you have completed. I felt that it could have been linked in with the challenges in each puzzle to further engage the player to use the gamepad more.
The art and graphics design in Stealth Inc 2 is wonderful, especially for a 2D game. The game runs at a full 60 frames per second, and it captures a real dark and gritty tone that is seen throughout the surroundings of the world and the test chambers. It goes to show you don’t need a fully-fledged graphics engine to have an enjoyable gaming experience. Complementing the art design is the addition of messages that you’ll see occasionally on walls. This is actually the words of your foe who you’re trying to escape from, and while humorous at times, it initially leaves you with a sense of help and despair but also some hope knowing you’ll escape each of his attempts.
Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones is an incredibly fun, third-party title for the Wii U that I enjoyed. With challenging and creative level designs that keep the player immersed in the gameplay, it is definitely worth downloading and checking out.