Monday, October 3, 2016

Stealth Inc 2 Review

A victim of the Metroidvania craze

Stealth Inc 2 is a puzzle platformer that plays somewhat like a 2D version of Portal. The player character is a clone from a scientific research center that must complete a series of puzzles and avoid traps in order to escape the facility to freedom.

The game is comprised of a series of test chamber stages that are linked together by a Metroidvania-style overworld. The test chambers are by far the star of the show here. Each one features a combination of puzzle-solving and platforming combined with some light stealth elements. Every ten stages focuses on a different experimental gadget in the clone's arsenal, thus keeping any one mechanic from getting stale. While some of the challenges can get a little frustrating, the puzzles are generally pretty clever and I found myself looking forward to trying the next set of chambers and unlocking new gadgets. Unfortunately, getting from one chamber to the next requires traversing a rather bland overworld. Since all the gadgets are received automatically by progressing through the stages, there's very little to do in this overworld beyond finding the next chamber's entrance. This causes  me to question why the overworld is there at all. While it would probably reduce the total playtime (which wouldn't necessarily be a negative for me),  I think this game would be a much more enjoyable and streamlined experience if there was just a simple level-select screen rather than a shoehorned-in Metroidvania map.

The music is a mixed bag and the story is bare-bones, but in a puzzle platformer these elements are of lesser significance anyway. I did find myself appreciating the graphics, however. The character designs are simple yet cute, but the impressive part is the use of light and shadow. The dynamic shadow effects give the game a moody atmosphere and also play into the stealth aspects of the action.

While I was underwhelmed by many parts of Stealth Inc 2, the clever puzzles of the test chambers kept me engaged enough to stick with it. For those who enjoy puzzles and are absolutely smitten by the Metroidvania formula, this game should provide a pretty desirable package overall. However, for players like me who just want to get in, beat a few puzzle stages, and get out, they may find themselves wishing Stealth Inc 2 stuck to its strengths and cut the padding.

Score: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Completion Time: 16 hours (skipping bonus stages and arbitrary collectibles)

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