It’s hard to play Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones and not compare it to previous titles it is obviously inspired by. The home hub, the testing facility, plays like a Metroidvania game, it’s from here that you will find the Portal-esque puzzle chambers. Although stealth is a huge feature of the game it isn’t a primary mechanic for much of it. Instead you’ll be using quick reflexes, occasional brute force and brainpower to push your way through increasingly challenging puzzle levels, in a Mark of the Ninja kind of way.
Stealth Inc. 2 follows one of a number of clones through the large testing facility as you try and free your fellow duplications from the traps set by the evil humans. The story is told by a single narrator who has an omnipresence, much like Glados, that not only guides you, but provides a little levity to proceedings and still manages to avoid feeling like a carbon copy of what Portal tried to achieve. Your human creator serves as the main antagonist and the text that pops into the world enables the game to convey a succinct and structured story without ever affecting the games flow. It’s a smart mixture of a number of ideas that really works well with the game’s pacing.
The biggest change from its predecessor is the addition of a hub world which takes the form of a facility, it’s from here that you will roam from to find further challenge levels. This central area allows the game to gently introduce new mechanics or ideas for how you approach obstacles before you’re truly challenged by the game’s spiking difficulty. You’ll collect numerous power ups and gadgets throughout the game which will make you want to backtrack and finally reach that collectable you previously struggled for 10 minutes trying to collect. These power ups make you feel useful and after struggling with new enemies give you a reason to go back and start paying real attention to your surroundings.
Sadly, the hub world feels bland and dark and while I’d expect plenty of shadows to jump to and from the abundance of pitch black screens with a single corridor running down the middle of the screen makes for a rather dull experience and does nothing to hold your attention. The lack of use of screen real estate feels like a missed opportunity and in a game which is spread out over a large hub, unnecessary.
The most frustrating aspect of Stealth Inc 2 is when precision is a requirement; whether it’s a jump that needs precise timing or an object that needs to hit an exact trajectory. The trial and error nature of perfecting these points are not only tedious and frustrating but completely kill any momentum you gather up beforehand. It feels unnecessary to spike the difficulty in random spots and these areas come without warning which leaves you completely unprepared and as a result you’ll spend the most time in the game trying to resolve these sections.
Stealth Inc 2 feels like a step in the right direction for the series but underperforms in the key areas that it expands to. The chambers that persist from the first game are, in large part, polished and as challenging as its predecessor. Although some will enjoy the challenge, others are simply going to feel cheated by rigid timings and some questionable design. It isn’t all bad I couldn’t help but feel my time would be better spent in other, similar games that do things far better than they do here.
- Challenge levels offer something for the Super Meat Boy lovers of the world
- Same great gameplay from the original game
- Hub World is an unnecessary addition and isn’t fully realized
- Timing can be tough and feel like you’re being cheated