The clones are breaking out once again as Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones brings a series of varied puzzles and a great deal of stealth action to Xbox One gamers. Set inside a high tech cloning facility, you take control of a delightful little clone as he attempts to escape the hostile environment he finds himself in; dodging lasers, hitting buttons, reaching up to the highest of platforms and controlling crazed robots along the way.
The puzzle element of Stealth Inc 2 is the real stand out affair. Whilst the bread and butter of the game consists of completing numerous small puzzle filled rooms in order to progress, the whole testing facility that Stealth Inc 2 is set in is one giant moving mystery, with secret areas galore and new routes to previously trodden environments opening up the more you progress through. The overall vibe and complete exclusion of any form of level loading means that Inc 2 feels fast, fluid and enjoyable to crisscross your way through. If you’re thinking that you could rest the old gray matter for a few minutes whilst you move between testing areas, then think again as your progression through will, at times, take a great skill of thought and learning.
Each area basically consists of a few screens filled with platforms, buttons, computers and some form of guard, whether that be in the form of a robot dog, a flying interceptor or just a shed load of lasers! You’ll need to carefully pick your way through the obstacles in your way in order to hack the computer and open the exit door, freeing your route to escape. Dotted around are numerous fellow clones who you can help to save as well if you like. It’s not essential to save your fellow kind but, much like in Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty, it brings a great sense of satisfaction if you do…although it must be said the happy little clone guys don’t quite measure up to Abe and his Mudokon friends.
The quicker you complete the level, the higher your end score will be, but there will be times when you need to hide in the shadows, wasting time as you keep out of the line of sight of the guards. A helpfully placed text prompt which is constant at the bottom of the screen, lets you know whether you are fully visible, partly visible or completely hidden in your current spot. Without this, it would become supremely tricky to know when you were safe or not. Whilst there is already an awful lot of death and destruction in Stealth Inc 2, a simple message ensures that it doesn’t get too out of hand and the balance between frustration and enjoyment is pretty much spot on.
Helping you navigate your way past the areas in front of you are a number of useful gadgets; although they’ll need to be earnt and learnt before you can use them fully. Giving you the chance to jump higher than previously imagined, or allowing you to leave something dropped on a button whilst you move around elsewhere, the control system for these gadgets works delightfully well, with the left stick moving your clone as normal and the right stick helping you use the tool to success. Personally, the ‘Jack Boy’ option is one of the best, and if you are quick witted and fast of finger then you’ll be able to control the mind of the numerous bots that are out to destroy you. The gadgets bring a lovely twist to the standard puzzling mechanics that are an offer and ensure that Stealth Inc 2 rises above and beyond any other puzzler you may have recently experienced.
No matter how easy you think the section ahead of you is, you will die over and over again as you aim for a quicker, easier route through, and the chance to gain a higher overall level score. With a number of factors including the time taken, amount of deaths and number of times spotted by the resident guards all playing a part in your level score, the replayability levels in Stealth Inc 2 are extremely high…especially if you wish to get your name up in leaderboard lights. There is however a strange omission from the global charts and that is the option to filter the scores and times taken in order to see those times of your friends. Seeing the top eight players around the world is a nice touch but we really need to see more than that for the leaderboards to have any decent significance.
There are times of frustration, especially when on the lookout for the next open door, as even with a basic map in tow, the exploration of the facility plays a big part in how you go about things. With a Shadow Complex-style discover and uncover system, there are plenty of areas that will remain hidden unless you spend the time to go out and look for them, although ghostly messages appearing on the facility walls help no end when you feel most in need. The discovery of further gadgets the more you progress will aid you in your quest for full clearance and completion, so you may need to go back over some of the older areas a couple of times before you find everything you are looking for.
On the whole, Stealth Inc 2 is a delightful puzzler with a unique gadgety twist. The very best puzzling titles offer huge replayability factors amongst the rarer ‘got it’ moments and across all 60 plus levels, Stealth Inc 2 excels in near on everything. You’ll manage to get engrossed in many hours of gameplay as you attempt to get to grips with the cunning traps that are included but if you need more of a hit, then the in-depth level creation and editor mode is certainly decent enough to spend some time with. The chance to play through some of the best user created segments via the community levels option is much appreciated and probably the preferred route for those of us with little to no imagination!
If you’re looking for something that will bring you great rewards and some decent taxing of your brain, then you could do much worse than check Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones out pronto, especially if you’re looking to grab all the hidden ‘hat and outfit’ content that is available!