The original Stealth Bastard: Tactical Espionage Arsehole (now sanitised to Stealth Inc.) has found itself on quite a few platforms over the past year. Martin reviewed the Deluxe version of the original PC game back in November 2012, while Mick reviewed the PlayStation Vita version in July of this year. Both of my esteemed colleagues were rather fond of this platform take on the stealth genre, and like every good indie game, it has now found its way onto iOS devices.
Charting the journey of a chubby clone running a particularly gruesome gauntlet of tests for his shady corporation creators, Stealth Inc. presents 80+ levels (and many more community-created levels) to be beaten, each one with its own leaderboard for the competitive types out there.
At its core, Stealth Inc. is a classic platform game in the Super Meat Boy vein. Your clone has no particularly special abilities, over than being able to duck, jump and cling onto the edge of a platform. Much like the aforementioned Super Meat Boy, safetly reaching the end of each level is down to a large amount of skill and an even larger amount of trial and error.
But as the title suggests, remaining undetected is the key to success. Your clone wears goggled that denote how visible he is – naturally, green is safe and red, not so. Each level is full of all manner of deadly hazards and staying in the shadows ensures that you reach each exit unscathed. There’s also an amount of puzzling to worry about, as there are terminals to hack, blocks to push and switches to, er, switch. I think it’s safe to say that you’ll see your cute avatar die regularly and in a variety of bloody ways. Get used to it. Luckily, for those really struggling, it is possible to skip levels a finite number of times.
The brilliance of Stealth Inc. is its simplicity, and gladly that has been well carried over to the iOS version. Controls are as easy as swiping left and right anywhere on the left-hand side of the screen with your thumb to navigate, while pressing one of three on-screen buttons to duck, jump and hack terminals. While it may lack the precision of a standard physical controller, the virtual controls in this version are well up to the task of moving your clone around without making mistakes. Well, the mistakes you make won’t be down to the controls, anyway.
It’s the immediacy of Stealth Inc. that makes it such a perfect fit for handheld/mobile devices. Levels are only a few minutes long, if that, but aiming for S ranks and finding all of the hidden Helix items will keep you on this one for quite a while. New equipment can also be unlocked for replaying levels and chapters, making for a lot of content in a small package – plus a practically infinite amount of extra Community levels to download and tackle.
What’s also great about the iOS version is that it’s tailor made for any device that has a half-eaten apple on the back. Whether you’re playing on an iPad or an iPhone, the game is designed to look great on that screen (and indeed, it does). It looks and sounds identical to all other versions, and nothing is compromised in terms of providing another avenue to playing and enjoying everything that Stealth Inc. has to offer. Which, as it happens is quite a lot.
VERDICT: Plenty of levels, plenty of hidden things to discover and lots of replay value continue to make this a game worth playing. The PlayStation Vita version may slightly edge out this port, but there’s not much in it. Stealth Inc. was made for handheld gaming, and to have it available on another platform is a bonus. No matter which edition of the game you purchase, you can expect some simple old school gameplay and modern-day challenge that can be enjoyed everywhere.
VERY GOOD. An 8/10 is only awarded to a game we consider truly worthy of your hard-earned cash. This game is only held back by a smattering of minor or middling issues and comes highly recommended.
Review code supplied by publisher.