I had the opportunity to play a few levels from Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones whilst at PAX. I went in with absolutely zero expectations, as I had never played the first, and had paid just enough attention to the game to know that it was once called Stealth Bastard. The developer changed the name, of course, to Stealth Inc. and released the game on PC, PS3, and PS Vita. With the sequel, Curve Studios (Stealth Inc., Thomas Was Alone, Lone Survivor) has signed an exclusivity deal with Nintendo to release the game exclusively on the Wii U, with no plans currently to release on other consoles.
For those not in the know, Stealth Inc. 2 puts players in the shoes of a clone who finds himself within a factory that asks him to complete various tests that involve all sorts of puzzle solving. The puzzles mostly include, unsurprisingly, stealth and generally avoiding being spotted by various cameras and turrets. In the sections I played, I was given a tool that would inflate and deflate at my command and allowed me to be blocked from gunfire or press buttons from a distance. It also serves other purposes, which I don’t plan to spoil here, that will generally aid the player in solving the game’s many puzzles.
The stealth mechanic is ingeniously simple. Standing in the dark, you can’t be spotted. You’ll know you’re in the dark based on the color of the goggles your character is wearing – green, you’re good; yellow, watch out; red, you’re S.O.L. Stealth games have rarely been this intuitive, even Mark of the Ninja (which this game will likely be compared to). I also noticed several references to the Splinter Cell series throughout the demo, including the series’ text-on-the-wall objectives.
Perhaps Stealth Inc. 2‘s greatest feature is it’s fantastic level design. There is little – if any – on screen prompts that act as tutorials. The levels are simply designed in a way to teach the player the correct path or the correct way in which to use the proper tool. There is always just enough forgiveness that it allows for the player to learn from their mistakes while never growing repetitive or frustrating, even when it embraces the stealth genre’s motto of “dust yourself up and try again.”
What will likely stand out to most players is the game’s fun approach to a genre that is so heavily steeped in rigidity and seriousness. The clones are adorable and have the ability to wear goofy hats which can be found throughout the game. Most importantly, when you die, your body explodes in a violent mess, not generally associated with cute characters. The contrast between family friendly visuals and over-the-top violence is the games most hilarious asset.
Walking away from Stealth Inc. 2, I couldn’t help but feel surprised at just how great the game felt. My experience with the Wii U game pad is extremely limited, to say the least, but the fluidity of the animations and the expertly designed levels made the game feel right at home on the Wii U and it’s massive controller.
Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones will be released on the Wii U in October.