Out of the shadows comes a surprise exclusive for the Wii U
Review written by
February 11th, 2015
When Curve Studios created their first entry in the Stealth series, it was a Windows release under the name of Stealth Bastard Deluxe: Tactical Espionage Arsehole. The game was eventually re-released on the PS3 and Vita under the more family-friendly name Stealth Inc: A Clone In The Dark, and its newest sequel has now hopped to yet another exclusive platform, the Wii U. With Nintendo needing all the exclusive games it can get, Stealth Inc 2 might have sneaked its way into becoming a cult hit.
From a story standpoint, Stealth Inc 2 does not require any prior knowledge of its predecessor; the game takes place inside PTi Industries, where the human employees subject their clone test subjects (who sort of resemble the minions from Despicable Me) to brutal deathtraps and other experiments for... reasons.
The narrative isn't too clear over what purpose these torturous acts serve, but it's the player's job to help their one clone navigate the labyrinthine hallways of PTi Industries and survive the hundreds of deadly traps and machines looking to impede his progress. Portal fans will experience a few moments of deja vu, particularly the way the game taunts you through highlighted messages in every room.
Super Meat Boy is another clear inspiration, as the 2D platformer/puzzler is also filled with instant deaths via instant death traps, but fortunately a forgiving checkpoint system will put players right back on the path to probably victory or certain death. These endless loops of despair are most apparent during the test chambers, which were originally the sole focus of the first Stealth Inc. Instead, the sequel has these rooms littered about the Metroidvania-style layout, and are typically required to pass in order to open the next path.
This is where mastery of the various skills becomes a requirement; in addition to the repertoire of abilities available from the start, Stealth Inc 2 features additional items, interactive objects and the titular stealth system to help solve the more advanced puzzles. The latter is especially important and also given its own representation in the game's interface: by manipulating the shadows in the game, players bounce between fully visible, partially visible, and fully hidden, with the third option typically being the one necessary to sneak past enemies that will instantly vaporize anyone in their path.
In a page taken from Dark Souls, the game also allows players to leave behind messages that can be read by other players. There is also a co-op mode that is unfortunately restricted to local play only, but there are plenty of AI companions who will assist players at key points.
With a cool visual style that isn't afraid to unnerve its audience with the grim fates of many cloned test subjects as well as a terrific electronic soundtrack, all of Stealth Inc 2's pieces come together to form a fun and unique puzzle platformer that's also deceptively difficult without veering into frustration. A little more polish, particularly in regards to the stealth system, would have been appreciated, but overall this is one stealth hit that needs to be brought to light for Wii U owners.
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