Stealth Inc.: A Clone in the Dark for the iOS is a 2D stealth platformer. You play as a clone hiding in the shadows to hack computers, push blocks onto buttons, and avoid detection. If you are detected, you will be killed — another trial-and-death game.
Stealth Inc. has 8 different worlds, each with 8 levels (including a boss battle). Each world adds a new enemy or platform mechanic to keep maps interesting. At one point, they introduce drones that can hear you (instead of see you) and avoiding them is made challenging due to the piano key floorboards they bought from Big.
It’s a fun game that uses stealth in a 2D environment extremely well. Your goggles glow green when you’re in the shadows (invisible), yellow when you’re partially exposed, and red when you’re in the light. They also tell you how hidden you are at the bottom of the screen, which would be good for smart phone users, but on the iPad it’s a redundant.
The game is very vocal despite a silent protagonist. Words are projected against the backwall from some unseen overseer, telling you what you are capable of and mocking your shortcomings. As the game progresses, the overseer grows increasingly annoyed by your tenacity, leading you to believe you’re about to uncover something extraordinary; something purposeful.
Spoilers: This is humorously misleading since (in the end) it turns out Stealth Inc. is just that, a company selling stealth merchandise, i.e. you are not being tested, your goggles are. As a result, they remove your goggles (now ready for retail) and blast you to bits. I like this ending.
Throughout the world are remains of other clones. That combined with the goading overseer, makes you wonder if you’re breaking new ground, if you’re truly exceptional. The fact that you’re not makes this one of the most morbid & silly games to date. A company with enough funds to generate clones (that double as successful spies), but are only interested in the merchandise.
This is why my main complaint with the game is its title as it’s a missed opportunity for the best punchline ever.
The game is Stealth Inc. but why not Stealth, LLC. as in Stealth Limited Liability Company? That would’ve been the icing on the cake. Otherwise, I’d like to think that Stealth Inc. exists within the same world as Solid Snake or James Bond and their special devices are manufactured and tested by these little clones — that’s how they know it’s state-of-the-art and won’t malfunction in a pinch.
Use of Negative Space
One of the aspects that kept me coming back to Stealth Inc. was the art. It’s highly detailed for such small sprites. Plus, the lasers, the lighting, the color palettes all added to the experience. Sometimes the palette would make you look illuminated… but in those scenarios, the goggles helped. Best of all, is the game’s use of negative space.
This is a game that heavily utilizes negative space, and that’s not something I’ve seen before in games. In Stealth, Inc. you often start in a single room surrounded by blackness. Sometimes that black veil is lifted as you explore, but more often than not, it stays black. You don’t know where you are, if you’re heading up or down. All you know is each door brings you closer to the light — since it opens with beaming brightness. It’s a feature that adds to the theme of stealth since the entire world outside of your corridor is hidden in the shadows, making you feel off-the-grid.
Equally as captivating is when a shadowed area, suddenly lights up to reveal other clones doing the same thing but in a different environment. Then, more often than not, you see the walls closing in on them, or a buzz saw about to approach… and the environment goes dark before you see what happens — but you know they’re dead. It makes you wonder (and is implied) that perhaps your trial is just one of many that are running concurrently and you’re only seeing a fraction of the test rooms provided.
Hate the Game, Not the Player
An interesting sidenote is that you cannot cheat the system which echoes the theme of Stealth Inc. I mention this because, on several occasions, I made a boo-boo, where I’d push a block off a ledge and it’d destroy one of the enemy drones. ‘Brilliant!’ I thought, ‘Now I don’t need to worry about them,’ but in fact, you do. For one level in particular, there were two drones going back and forth (blocking a laser on my behalf. When I accidentally destroyed one, it made the puzzle impossible to complete.
On more than one occasion this type of situation happened. On the one hand, it’s a bummer, but on the other hand, it fits thematically with the ending since you are constantly playing by the oversee-er’s rules. I can appreciate that.
If you enjoy platformers, I highly recommend it… On a personal note however, this game made me realize I’m not the casual gamer I thought I was. I had fun, but without significant plot or character development, my interest waned with each new world. I found myself compelled to reach the end just so I could delete the app and tackle a new one. This isn’t the fault of the developers, I’m just realizing I need to sink my teeth into something more. As Nietzche once told his student, “I don’t want you to stop believing in God, you need Him! I just need something more.”
For more iOS reviews, visit Derek Hobson’s Article Archive