Amusingly, Curve Studios’ Stealth Inc used to go by the name Stealth Bastard Deluxe: Tactical Espionage A*sehole. No, I did not make that up. I’m sure you’ll agree that Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark is just a tad more family friendly.
Stealth Inc, as we’re now calling it, is repeatedly described as a cross between Metal Gear Solid and Super Meat Boy. In case there’s any doubt: that’s a good thing.
Metal Gear Solid is of course one of the most popular stealth games of all time. In fact, it’s one of the most popular games of all time, period.
As for Super Meat Boy, it’s a relentlessly difficult indie platformer that’s best played while entirely sober; there’s not much room for error.
Combining elements of both, Stealth Inc is ultimately – you guessed it – a relentlessly difficult stealth platformer.
Specifically, you’ll find Metal Gear Solid-style cameras that swing left to right, and basically you want to avoid detection as you head for the exit, lest you find yourself lasered into oblivion.
On the platforming side of things, it’s often necessary to make ultra-precise jumps, while other sections task you with running full speed under the cover of shadows as they dance around the levels. Stealth Inc puts the speed back into stealth; why must we always creep?
In terms of Stealth Inc being a bastard, well that’s still very much the case - despite the name change. It is brutally difficult.
Worse still, the game will take every opportunity to taunt you, with such gems as: “Should I draw you a diagram?” or: “I used to do your job. I was much better at it.”
Some jibes genuinely made me laugh out loud, such as: “You did it! Oh maybe not.” In that particular case, a cheeky trap opened up just as I made a mad dash for the exit. Son of a…
Mercifully, each of Stealth Inc’s 80+ levels is broken up into lots of tiny slices; when you die, you’re simply put back to the beginning of the current section. Phew.
Upon completion of each level, you’re given a rank based on time, number of deaths, and number of times spotted. You can fully expect to die dozens of times in some levels. It’s that hard.
But like all the best hardcore games, you only have yourself to blame when you mess up. Stealth Inc never feels unfair, and you’re free to replay levels in an attempt to scarper up the leaderboards.
The only slight niggle I encountered is that it’s possible to get stuck in some levels (I mean proper stuck), and consequently it’s necessary to start the level again from the beginning, but it’s a tiny gripe in an otherwise perversely enjoyable game.
- It’s so enjoyably brutal
- 80+ levels for £2.99
- The darkly humorous taunting
- Possibly too brutal for some
- Occasionally possible to get stuck
- Did I mention the difficulty?
Summary: Combining elements of Metal Gear Solid and Super Meat Boy, Stealth Inc serves up a relentlessly brutal stealth platformer. That might sound utterly nightmarish to you, but it works for yours truly.
Developer: Curve Digital Games
Price: £2.99 @ App Store
Compatibility: Requires iOS 4.3 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.