I hope this game can sneak onto your Wii U.
Typically, I am not a fan of stealth-based games. Having tried game series like Deus Ex and Metal Gear Solid, the genre is simply not for me. Stealth Inc. 2, coming from Fluidity developer Curve Digital, grabbed my attention with its stronger 2D side-scrolling puzzle focus layered on top of its stealth-based roots. The game’s expanding overworld coupled with the array of non-stop puzzles makes it a standout Wii U eShop exclusive.
Despite stealth being in the title, it is not the focus of gameplay; it’s just part of a rich experience. Levels typically involve solving puzzles while only occasionally making you worry about an adversary’s line of sight. When a sneaky solution is necessary, the game makes sure you are more than prepared. Each new aspect is layered onto previously learned skills with each subsequent level. These seemingly endless new layers of complexity come in the form of your character gear and the many ways in the environment you can use it. The gear itself, coming in the form of an array of different tools such as the Inflate-a-Mate and Jack Boy, forces you to endlessly learn new things about the mechanics.
Stealth Inc. 2’s Metroid-inspired overworld was as equally impressive as it was disappointing. The world dynamically changes and grows with you as you progress along the predefined path of story levels, opening new passages that you must take to continue onto the next level. You can branch off of this path for extra collectibles, but a single path appears to be required for making meaningful progress. It was a missed opportunity to not allow players to explore within a given area and try to find alternative routes to get around, but unfortunately many of your objectives are behind walls that do not open until the level before it is complete. The ability to use all of your collected gear in the overworld only reinforces the limited feeling, as no matter how much you have, you still can’t get to another area until you finish the previous level and open a wall.
While the overworld exploration is somewhat disappointing, the mood and smart lighting design nearly make up for it. Low lighting effectively plays into the game’s difficulty while giving Stealth Inc. 2 a unique tone. It looks great on and off of the TV screen as off-screen play is present. Other than this basic feature, the GamePad doesn’t get much use. Using collectible character customization and looking at the rather static world map is the only true use when playing through the game. Co-operative play does introduce a mode where a second player using the GamePad assists in the completion of levels. Both players must work in tandem in this mode in order to achieve success.
For creative types, a stage editor is available for use and it contains what seems like all of the components that actual levels use. While the vast number of options is fantastic, the editor is initially daunting to use. With button controls and logic options hidden in various menus, it is difficult to quickly customize levels. However, it truly delivers a complete stage creation tool, but that comes at the expense of a quick and more usable tool. If you only want to reap the benefits of other’s hard work, created levels can be uploaded and then downloaded for more fun.
What matters most about puzzle games are the puzzles themselves, and Stealth Inc. 2 delivers in spades. Challenging levels with a consistent learning curve push players in a direction where boredom does not set in. Just as you feel as if you understand something, a new twist throws another wrinkle at you. The overworld is fun to navigate, regardless of its shortcomings; and the stage editor is a welcome addition for those choosing to take time to learn its intricacies. Stealth Inc. 2 delivers a full product that will leave any puzzle fan wanting more, and they can get it thanks to the long game and the downloadable created puzzles.