The original game in this series was a bit of a surprise to me, I wasn’t too much for titles fully built around puzzles before I played some of the challenge rooms in Curve’s title. Soon I was hooked, continuing to solve those little puzzle rooms and aiming for the best score I could. Now the game is back for this Stealth Inc 2 A Game of Clones Review and turned from a series of challenges in a menu to a fully expanded Metroidvania style adventure.
For those who missed this series, Stealth Inc. is a game based around clones who take on challenges in chambers to earn points. Your general objective is to stay in shadow to avoid detection and get out of the room as quickly as possible.
But where the first game made more of a puzzle room game, here in Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones you are in more of a platforming adventure that borrows a little influence from other dark puzzle games like The Swapper.
Building on an already successful formula and making it more appealing, this game really is a fantastic example of a puzzle platformer and is no clone of its previous outing.
Look and Feel
Graphics are not the game’s strongest area but it conveys a certain darkness and grimy world, almost cyberpunk in its design. The main world and rooms are all metallic looking with splatters of blood here and there adding some colour.
The atmosphere on the other hand is excellent. The sound effects are really effectively timed and add a level of brutality when your clone gets squished, zapped or blown to bits. The soundtrack is the biggest win here for me, a wonderful mix of beats and atmospheric sounds really work so well during all elements to the game.
Dark humour is also prominent in everything that happens, the game communicates instructions and comments on your actions as words projected on walls and some comments will have you smiling, usually the ones that come after you just died!
The game might not be the most graphically stunning but what it manages to do is create an atmosphere that really does suck you in and want to keep playing and finding more out about this world.
When I first started the game, I was surprised at the change in appearance with no menu system, instead opting for a more open map, Metroidvania style exploration leading you to test rooms. As you start the opening sequence, a human worker at the clone factory is trying to be the company’s top scoring employee.
You, the clone, try and escape the continually changing environment and avoid traps on your way to discovering what is happening with the clones and why you are all being tested and killed.
Once you are free, you can move around the world and get into the test rooms, following the guidance of the words on the wall you enter rooms of varying challenges that will see you trying to get to the door at the other side.
As a premise it’s really well put together, and the humour of the game will get you with its dark tone that likes to tease and mock you as you play.
Gameplay fluctuates between the clever and the outright frustrating but never do you feel like throwing your controller or anything more serious. The challenge rooms involve a wide variety of different enemies that can get in your way and kill your clone very quickly. Bombs, turrets, grinders and falling ceilings name but a few of the things you need to avoid.
You are safe when in the dark so the idea is to use objects in the world to block these nasty things from seeing you and, if you can, drift by completely unnoticed. This is one with some clever ideas; steam can be unleashed and manipulated with environmental elements like fans to block the sights of the cameras. Or you can use towers to cast a shadow and keep you protected. Then you also get some help from other clones too in order to complete some tasks and keeping both of you alive is always a fun challenge.
These isn’t much wrong with the gameplay, it can be frustrating grabbing ledges at times when the collision detection doesn’t quite seem right but you’ll rarely have any issues with the game itself, more your own ability to figure out the puzzle before you.
Stealth Inc. 2: A Game Of Clones manages to do something the previous games never quite did for me; it sucked me into the experience as a game rather than a series of challenges to tick off a big list. The structure of the game around a large open map you continually explore and open up really works and with 60 challenges to do, with scores to try and beat, you can spend a lot of time with this game.
Curve Digital have really created the best Stealth Inc. yet with this title and we hope the clones continue to multiply and make even more of a game out of this ever evolving series.
Stealth Inc 2 A Game of Clones Review Format: PS4