Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones
| Stealth Inc. 2

The original Stealth Inc. shook up the stealth genre. Instead of being slow and methodical, it was fast paced and required twitch reactions.

Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones has inherited those same traits, and more importantly has ironed out the original's few flaws and added some extra personality. The result is simply marvellous.

Super Meat Boy meets Splinter Cell sums Stealth Inc. 2 up nicely. Darkness is your friend, and skulking in it is typically your safest option. However, you're also racing against time and fleeing spritely foes. You're dashing around obstacles, jumping over pits, and avoiding the gaze of sentry guns, cameras, and enemy robots.

This is not a safe place for you and your kind. You are a mere humanoid clone, one of many used by PTi Industries to test its range of new children toys. However, you've spotted an opportunity to escape and an expansive over-world full of secrets and 60 test chambers are all that stands between you and freedom.

It would be just like me to clone myself

This implementation of a narrative is an important and effective upgrade from the previous title's setup. The charming visuals and taunting messages written on the walls made the previous title quirky, but this sequel's addition of extra characters adds more coherency and agency.

Furthermore the Metroidvania over-world replaces the linear level selection for a far more immersive way to play through the challenges, and compliments the narrative and pacing wonderfully.

It's also expertly designed. The over-world is logical and simple to move through, thanks largely to the title's use of lighting. You begin surrounded by complete darkness, but light sources gradually reveal the way forwards and the doors to new test chambers.

Hostile work environment

Each test chamber is also lit in this way. Enough is revealed so you can work out the puzzling platforming, switch flipping, computer hacking, and button pressing challenges one at a time, before moving on to the next.

The layout of traps and the overall design of the challenges are also brilliant, with what seems to be simple tasks fooling you into bold action before revealing their perils too late for you to counter. It's puzzle solving through trial and error to begin with, but as you come to appreciate that every puzzle means to kill you, you can anticipate and conquer them more quickly.

You're expected to make mistakes, though, and often the game revels in your failure with amusing messages on the walls and seemingly insurmountable traps to overcome. Happily, you respawn instantly at generously placed checkpoints.

But death does undermines the story a bit, in a way it didn't in the original. In Stealth Inc, another clone took your place upon death. Here it's supposed to be about a single standout clone escaping.

For the most part, however, you won't be concerned with the clash between story and gameplay, for their ability to be compelling, interesting, and fun trumps all.

Watching the narrative unfold is humorous and entertaining, meanwhile leaderboards make conquering test chambers and chasing faster and faster completion times a driving experience. Moreover, it's fascinating to discover what dangers are next for your green goggled clone.

I've just discovered cloning. That makes two of us.

There are five distinct areas in the over-world to explore, each with their own unique set of test chambers and robotic bosses to overcome. Additionally you'll unlock gadgets as you progress, changing how you complete puzzles.

Inflate-A-Mate, for example, replaces your need for a fellow clone to help you with puzzles and allows you to pull a rectangular, furry chap out of your pocket instead. These gadgets are also required to get around to new areas in the over-world.

The aesthetically different areas provide a nice change of scenery frequently enough to avoid stagnation, meanwhile, the selection of new, deadly foes and traps keep you on your toes, but the focus on using different gadgets and overcoming puzzles in different ways is certainly the most impressive feat.

Stealth Inc. 2 is a difficult but brilliant stealth puzzle platformer that reminds fresh throughout.

It iterates on its predecessor in all the right ways, bringing the same compelling devilishly difficult challenge as the original, implementing a new over-world, and improving other aspects, such as the level editor.

Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones

Stealth Inc. 2 can be frustratingly difficult at times, but the level design is so spectacular and the challenges so varied, it's effortless to forgive