Stealth Bastard Deluxe Review

Stealth-Bastard-Deluxe-ReviewGame: Stealth Bastard Deluxe

Developer: Curve Studios

Publisher: Curve Studios

Available on: Windows PC Only

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first thing. Yes, the game is called Stealth Bastard: Tactical Espionage Arsehole. Yes, it’s a funny name and yes, it fits with how the game makes you feel towards it; but in a good way. Stealth Bastard is a game which falls very much in the same crowd as the much-loved Super Meat Boy, it’s a hardcore game that will see most players getting killed more times than it will see them succeed in anything they’re trying to do. Before you start playing the game you should be ready to be blasted by lasers, have your body caught in trapdoors and be squashed by any number of falling objects. Such is the life of a stealth obsessed clone, such is the life of a Stealth Bastard.

There’s not much of a story in Stealth Bastard, the game is truly old school in the sense that you’re just given a basic objective and a game mechanic and told to get on with it. When the game starts you’ll be treated to a small cutscene that basically tells the player that they’re a clone, and that they need to escape the training facility. After that you’re left to your own devices to take on level after level as you see fit.

In a game like Stealth Bastard though, you’re not going to need a story. You’re not given much at all after that initial cutscene before the game starts and you never feel that the game is lacking due to its lack of a real narrative. You’re playing the game because you want a challenge, you want to feel like you’re hitting your head against a brick wall before feeling the euphoria of finally being able to do something, you’re not playing it for its deep and engaging storyline, and if that’s what you wanted then I’m afraid you’ve downloaded the wrong title.

Stealth Bastard makes use of a retro look and does so to great effect. The look of the game helps to remind the player that this isn’t a game that they’re going to be able to sit back, relax and play a little bit, it’s a game very much in the old school vein of things. If you sit back and try to play it casually then you’re really going to struggle.

You’re going to have to play close attention to the visuals of Stealth Bastard if you’re going to get anywhere in the game too, the main character wears a pair of goggles, not dissimilar to Sam Fisher from the Splinter Cell series, whose lenses changes colour based on whether or not you can be partially seen or you’re totally hidden. If the goggles are green then all is good and you’re hiding as well as you can possibly do so (you’re being a stealthy bastard, if you will). If those goggles turn red, however, you better be prepared to die because 90% of the time that’s what’s going to happen next.

The sound design of Stealth Bastard doesn’t really play into the gameplay so much, so if you’re the kind of person who likes to watch TV or listen to podcasts while you’re playing your games, then you’re not going to be missing out on much. The music is quite good though, and it fits in with the tone of the game while also sounding quite old school.

In Stealth Bastard you have a single, simple task: Get to the end of the level. How you accomplish this is anything but simple though. You’ll have to navigate your way through laser grids, push switches that appear to be located in impossible locations, and you’ll need to hide yourself in the tiniest slivers of shadows imaginable in the hopes that a singular security camera doesn’t spot you.

While you’re playing through the game you’ll be keeping a close eye on your goggles, these are the indicator that tell you whether or not you’re well hidden (as well as the small string of text at the bottom of the screen which tells you the same thing). In later levels of the game it’s hugely important to use every single shadow that you can see on the screen to your advantage, in early levels of the game it might be good enough just to outmanoeuvre all of the obstacles that litter the path between you and the exit, but on later levels you’re going to have to rely on a little bit more than your wits and an itchy jump finger, so get in those shadows and stay there until you’re absolutely sure that it’s safe to move.

Each section of the game is split up into ten levels, eight of which can be unlocked through progression through the game, and the last two are unlocked when you collect all of the helixes in each of the previous levels. Each of the levels also has a helix on them which the player can collect. These don’t add anything to the game, they don’t unlock anything or do anything, but if you’re wanting to 100% complete each stage of the game – and I have no doubt that there are some people that won’t even consider thinking that they’ve finished the game until they do so – then you’re going to have to find and collect each one of them.

Replaying levels in a chapter will also award you with costumes, play through it two times and you’ll be awarded with one costume, play through it again and you’ll get another, etc. Once you’ve unlocked a particular costume on three of the chapter’s levels, you’ll unlock that costume for all of the levels in that chapter. Some of these costumes come in handy in some of the later levels too, especially the camo costume which allows the player to go undetected for a short period of time. Absolute lifesaver.

The Steam version of Stealth Bastard also has a full list of achievements for you to sink your teeth into if attaining 100% on each of the game’s levels still isn’t enough for you. These achievements range from ones that are easy to get to the ones that seem impossible at first. Pretty standard stuff if you’ve played any game in the last few years but it’s still nice to see them in an indie game. The Xbox 360 controller is also fully supported in this Steam version of the game. The free version also supported Microsoft’s controller but I would have a couple of problems with it on occasions; there were no such problems with the Steam version and playing using the Xbox 360 controller seems to be the best way to play the game.

There’s plenty to do in Stealth Bastard. Once you’ve finished a level you can repeat it as many times as you want in order to get further and further up that high score table, or get a better grade; ever searching for that elusive ‘S’ grade. Add on top of that the multiple levels to unlock, the hidden helix collectibles in each of them and then the community created levels and the fully featured level designer and you’ve got a game on your hands that, in theory, never has to end. Spectacular value for money.

VERDICT: If you’re a fan of Super Meat Boy then you’re going to love Stealth Bastard. Sure, it’s missing a couple of features that make the Team Meat created game so superb, but what you’re getting is an interesting, engaging and fun to play game with all the bells and whistles that you would usually expect from a game that’s getting a steam release. Achievements are here, cloud syncing, etc. The free version is, at the time of writing this, still available on the internet for free so you can download it and see if you like the gameplay then go and buy the vastly superior Steam version.

If there’s one thing that Stealth Bastard will teach people, it’s that they’re not as good at games as they initially thought they were.

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  • http://twitter.com/onebitbeyond Bidds

    Hi guys. I’m Bidds, one of the developers of the game. Thanks for the great review!

    One thing I noticed though is that the screenshots are from the free version from a year ago, and not the Deluxe version we put out this week. Could you please update the screenshots with our new improved, awesome visuals? I’d really appreciate it.

    We’ve noticed that some people are already confusing the new version with the free one, so issues like this make it worse!

    Again, thanks for the review! :D

  • http://twitter.com/onebitbeyond Bidds

    Oh, I’d also like to correct your comment about the pickups. Collecting all of the DNA helixes in a chapter unlocks a secret level for that chapter! :)

  • http://www.MartinJBaker.org.uk/ Martin Baker

    All those changes have now been made Bidds. Also added a link to the Steam version to try and lessen that confusion between the two versions. Thanks for the heads up :)

    Grats on the game by the way, I’m loving the brutality :P

  • http://twitter.com/onebitbeyond Bidds

    Thanks heaps, Martin! It’s really appreciated. Glad you’re enjoying it too. :)

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