Stealth Inc 2: A Game Of Clones is challenging and fun puzzle platformer in which the player controls a clone trying to free itself and others from a testing facility. The game feels a like curious mix of the Metroidvania game Shadow Complex, and the much-loved indie game, Fez. It’s undeniably cute, but the premise surrounding the puzzles and platforming exploration can also be very dark.
A Game Of Clones was preceded by another play-on-words titled game called Stealth Inc: A Clone In The Dark. This first game was originally called, I kid you not, Stealth Bastard when it was originally released. In addition to a better title, A Game Of Clones is also a more robust and polished product than its predecessor.
This game is challenging. If the puzzles, which range from quaint to baffling, don’t impede progress from time to time, then the demands on the player’s reflexes definitely will. Many platformer classics inspired the gameplay of Stealth Inc 2. Mechanics like hitting switches, moving objects, and grabbing items are common place. More interesting obstacles like sentient turrets and stealth-enabling steam currents reveal themselves as the game progresses.
The story moves forward in smaller increments as the clone moves throughout the testing facility, but the real progression happens through short cutscenes. The cinematics introduce the main antagonist: a quality tester who simply wants to be the number one employee. Unfortunately for the never ending supply of clones, this means testing, which typically ends in some form of vaporization or compaction. The cutscenes are triggered as the main clone moves through the dozens of individual test chambers.
Each chamber can be replayed to improve scores such as completion time and the number of deaths. Scores can be viewed and compared through an online leaderboard. While there’s no multiplayer, there is the potential for some healthy competition. Individual test chambers are spread across the test facility overworld. Without revealing too much, new abilities are gained and they enable levels to be conquered in new ways. Much like Shadow Complex, these new abilities allow you to reach areas of the overworld that were previously inaccessible.
The look of the game is like a darker Gru’s laboratory from Universal Picture’s Despicable Me. If Gru had sold his minions into scientific slavery, that is. The adorable clones run around on small legs, spout squeaky gibberish as they jump through levels, and wear gigantic goggles. There’s also a small degree of character customization that lets the player dress up their clone through collectibles found in the game.
The levels range from ominous to exciting. Wall posters that remind workers to ‘test for the customer’ and to ‘meet quotas’ help instill the overall ambiance of a dark, soulless factory where the clones are things, not people. The size and complexity of some of the puzzles and test chambers really make the player feel like a rat in a maze. While stealth is a big part of the game, every section of the game feels like it’s under surveillance.
On top of all of the great levels, Stealth Inc 2 also includes an incredible level editor. The player starts from scratch and can develop their own chambers with unique lighting, logic and triggers, timers and switches, enemies and hazards, security cameras and more. Even if you’re not the creative type, you can try out some of the levels created by other gamers. After completing the main game, these community levels offer more fun and challenge.
The best summary of Stealth Inc 2‘s audio would be ‘arcade-like’. Techno tones and industrial-styled music beat in the background. The clone’s feet pitter-patter as it scampers through the levels. Metallic thumps and clangs echo as automatic doors open and close. When multiple clones do come together to solve puzzles or escape traps, they make affirmative chirps or frightened squeaks. These are entertaining in a cartoonish way even when they meet grizzly demises moments later.
I don’t remember the last time I played a puzzle platformer and enjoyed it as much as I did with Stealth Inc 2. It was entertaining, had a surprising amount of humor, and was challenging in a Portal-esque way. The puzzles could halt my progress for a bit, but then it was rewarding when I figured out what I needed to do. An utterly fun game with loads of replay value that I would recommend to anyone.
Stealth Inc 2: A Game Of Clones is developed by Curve Studios and is available on PC and every current-gen console.
Tyler Davis is a freelance writer and contributor to PN2. He’s on Twitter @TDavis179