The first Stealth Inc game was a very taxing, very inventive platform/puzzle game that had players trying to lead their little clone through a series of test chambers with the aim being to get to the exit door of each stage. Stealth Inc. 2 is much the same but the production values, writing and story have all been upped.
The story isn’t exactly in-depth but it allows a dark edge of humour to subtly be placed throughout the game. It revolves around a lab employee who sits in second place in his companies productivity scores. Sitting just one point above him is his rival. It would all be fine if it weren’t for the fact that the clones keep escaping and not doing quite what they should.
You play the role of the helpless clone trying to escape the institute but finding yourself continually unable to resist the draw of taking on the test chambers. The new hub world acts to channel you around the institute with each completed test chamber opening new areas and giving the brief glimmer of hope that you might be getting close to finally escaping once and for all. It’s not dissimilar to the atmosphere created by Portal and that is certainly not a bad thing.
The levels themselves can only be described as devious. We certainly wouldn’t have thought you could have created so much with the basic tool set of trip switches, lasers and moving blocks. The original Stealth Inc. displayed some stunning level design and Stealth Inc. 2 seems to take it to a level beyond even that. The fact your unseen overseer keeps leaving you sarcastic comments as you go only adds to the atmosphere.
The hub world itself is one huge puzzle that gradually unlocks and needs to be traversed as you proceed. It really helps to pull the game together and adds much more charm to the game than the simple listed level approach of the first game. Little touches of design such as robot vacuums cleaning deserted corridors and employees going about their business help to create the illusion of the facility and also really differentiate the hub world from the self-contained levels.
The big addition is that some of the puzzles now involve other rescued clones helping you out. This can also be done through local co-op which adds yet another little treat into the mix. A few pieces of equipment are also on hand to shake things up a bit and the different ways these are used demonstrates yet more design genius from the developers. For instance – an inflatable buddy is seemingly there to act as a weight on switches. Soon though you will realise you can use it to propel yourself like a trampoline from it or use it to strand enemy robots.
Though the original game was excellent we just found ourselves having even more fun with this one. The extra touches of humour, the even more inventive level design and the perfectly judged learning curve make this a real joy to play. There aren’t many games that make you feel so elated working your way through a level solving little pieces of puzzles that add up to a bigger solution.
As before there is a level editor included and players can then share their sadistic creations with the rest of the gaming community. This could well mean that there will be new levels for fans to play for many years to come.
Overall, this takes all the elements from the excellent original and levels everything out while adding a big dollop of humour and some nice additional modes. It’s one of the most pure platform/puzzle experiences we’ve played for many a year and there is absolutely no reason for you not to buy it.