Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark (Ultimate Edition) – As We Play

Format – PlayStation 4

Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark… why? Why did you have to put a pun in the title. I’m not saying it’s a bad pun, it’s quite fitting actually, but it automatically makes me assume your game is going to be in the same league as James Pond or Ed, Edd, and Eddy: The Mis-Edventures. There’s no reason to do that. Don’t do that. Your game is actually worthy of respect and deserves more than a pun of a far worse videogame.

Right off the bat Stealth Inc: Attack of the Clones has a fantastic art style. It’s not the graphical beauty Child of Light is, or the ridiculous powerhouse of Crysis, but there was a very clear art direction the developers wanted and they nailed it. It’s a magnificent blend of 16-bit classic with modern day 2D HD platformers. I love it. This could be because I weakness for almost any genre of pixel art, but it fitted the gameplay perfectly – especially when it came down to the line-of-sight mechanics on the enemies.

Lasers. Lasers everywhere.

The actual gameplay of Stealth Inc: Home A Clone is one of the purest examples of ‘easy to learn, hard to master’. You start at the beginning of the level and then, using various switches/platforms, must make it to the exit. With bonuses for not being spotted on your run by staying out of sight, not dying, and beating the par time.One nice touch I noticed almost immediately was that the colour bar on the PS4 controller changed based on your level of invisibility – green being invisible, yellow as a warning, and red meaning visible. Wasn’t immensely useful in any gameplay scenarios, as the goggles on the character did the same, but the extra effort that Stealth Inc: And The Philosopher’s Clone made is none-the-less appreciated.

After completing a level with the basic suit, you can replay levels with a variety of five more advanced stealth suits that give you extra powers. One even gives you a temporary invisibility power regardless of if you’re in the shadows or not (why this is the first one you unlock I’ll never know – it’s totally OP). However, The tricky part isn’t even avoiding all the security cameras/turrets/robots that are guarding the levels. Oh no. The true enemy? It’s you. You with your pride, and your ego.

Please don’t see me. Please don’t see me. Please don’t see me.

You see, Stealth Inc: Clone of the Enders is also a manifestation of every horrendous, self-inflicted, masochistic desire you have writhing inside your brain. Why? One word: highscore.“Oh, did you only score a B Rank? That’s pretty good. That’s a good spot for you. Well done.” Don’t you patronise me, Stealth Inc: The Clone Wars, I can do better that and you damn well know it! “Sure you can,” the game snarkily replies. “Perhaps one day you’ll actually show that to me.”

It gets inside your brain. Soon every step, every inch, every millisecond matters more to you than any family member in your life. There are even reward bonus stages for when you S Rank every level in a given stage. On top of that every level has a hidden Helix (all hail the Helix) to be found, and another bonus stage once you’ve found them all in that stage. As if that wasn’t enough, there are separate highscore and leaderboards for every stealth suit you unlock too. It’s highscores upon highscores upon highscores.

Is this game calling me fat?

Here’s a fun fact: Did you know that the game was originally titled ‘Stealth Bastard’ when it released on PC? Do you know why? I sure do. This highscore-whoring, turret-massacring, leaderboard-flaunting, stealth-touting game is a complete bastard to complete. Can it get any worse, you may ask? Yes. How? I god damn love it. At least if I had hated it then I could have rage quit a few hours in and palmed it off as a waste of time, but no. Stealth Inc: The Inglorious Bastard had to go ahead and make me love it after all this.

Stealth Inc: Thomas Was A Clone is the most addictive experience I’ve had on PlayStation 4 so far. Granted, I never particularly got into the Trials series so Fusion did pass me by rather unnoticed, but even so I’m fairly confident that didn’t have 120 stages as the Ultimate Edition here has (that being 80 on the solo game, with 20 with each of the two DLC packs included).

OH COME ON!

That’s not to say there aren’t some faults I noticed along the way. Certain highscores on the leaderboards are rather questionable at best. Not to mention that there’s not quick an easy ‘replay level’ button at the end when you complete it. At least none that I could find. Each time it took you back to the menu where you would have to go back and reselect the mission – which did get rather tedious while attempting speedruns. Overall, though, I had a hair-pullingly good time with Stealth Inc: Right into the Danger Clone. The controls were solid and super responsive – as is required with a game like this, the challenge continuously increased but never felt unfair or cheap, and the number of levels included in the Ultimate Edition is staggering. It works out at less than 9p per level, and that’s not including the replay value for highscores, extra stealth suit runs, and Helix hunting.

Areas for Improvement

  • Add a ‘Replay Level’ button at the end, don’t make us go back to the menu each time.
  • Fix the glitchers on the leaderboards.

Final Analysis

Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark is a bastard of a game. It’s difficult, it’s sneaky, it’s brutally competitive both on and off leaderboards, and I even strained a vocal chord screaming at missing a highscore by less than one second. It is, however, well worth the time, effort, and tears. The most enjoyably addictive experience I’ve had on PS4 thus far.

 

Technical Competency: 9/10
Graphic Quality: 9/10
Sound Quality: 7/10
Network Stability: N/A
Overall: 8/10