Impressions: Stealth, Inc. (PSV)

Part of Sony’s recent PSN Play promotion, Stealth Inc has hit PS3 and PSVita. Formerly known as ‘Stealth Bastards’ for the PC, it’s a fantastic platformer built around, of course, stealth. You play as a clone within what appears to be a research facility and you have to reach the exit of each level without being killed in any of the myriad of ways the game uses to attempt to be rid of you.

I played the game on my Vita, and personally I think that is where it was meant to be played – I can’t imagine playing it anywhere else. But let’s take a minute here to just quickly go over my thoughts in this Impressions post for Stealth Inc.

To get this out of the way… I loved the game and it’s a perfect game for a handheld device – especially if you’re like me and use it mostly on the bus. The game is just perfectly suited to play in that sort of environment, except in one way.

For some reason the creators had the less-than-brilliant idea to have the game check for an internet connection before AND after every mission, leading to a situation where – if you’re playing it on the bus – you end up having to cancel out of the ‘trying to connect screen’ constantly. This is a minor gripe, but an important one as this really delays you getting between stages. And when you’re dealing with stages that are 1-5 minutes long… delays between them can really add up.

That being said, the stage length was a boon for a handheld game… bite sized pieces are what you want in this type of experience. And Stealth Inc delivers. The missions are nice and short, but nice and challenging, and even moreso if you’re aiming to get all of the Helixes – collectible items found in every stage – or to complete the stage with an S rank. Getting all the helixes or S-ranking every mission will also unlock challenge missions that will satisfy even the most masochistic among us.

The minimalist soundtrack and aesthetics work so well for the game, and mesh perfectly within the concept of the game. Adding to that is a sarcastic sense of humour between the little company notices you get and also with a series of little messages delivered along the walls of the mission areas that provide you with both entertainment and information. The snarky arrogance in those messages goads you into trying harder, into playing more… and when you start playing more, the frustration and the satisfaction compound. Stealth, Inc is an incredibly satisfying platformer. Sure it isn’t action packed, but when you struggle at a level for a half hour and then finally manage to figure out the exact sequence, the exact formula for beating that level, it is intensely rewarding. Very few games have offered me this level of satisfaction simply for completing a level… and all of that without being so difficult that, short of one level, I ever felt it necessary to use the ‘skip level’ option the game provides you with.

I can’t say this game will be a hit for everyone, but I can certainly say it is a perfect taste for anyone looking for a methodical platformer that plays as though it were always meant for a handheld platform.

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