E3 2013: Hands-on with Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark for PS Vita

You light up my life

E3 2013: Hands-on with Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark for PS Vita

It's a tough life being a clone in a brutally difficult stealth puzzler.

Heading out into each level, you know that a comedic and equally brutal death lurks just around every bend, yet you creep out of the shadows anyway desperately hoping that you're the clone who'll make it through.

While you, the player, won't be sharing the messy end of each clone you deploy in Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark, you'll certainly be sharing in their hopes that they'll make it through the level unscathed.

Don't go into the light

Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark is the successor to the puzzle platformer Stealth Bastard Deluxe which found its way onto Steam last year.

While it might have dropped the "bastard" from its name, Stealth Inc picked up a few new enhancements like dynamic lighting, richly saturated HD graphics, and a new level editor which allows players to create excruciatingly difficult levels and share them with their enemi... friends.

But in terms of gameplay, Stealth Inc is very faithful to its predecessor.

You play as a minion-like character who needs to sneak through a series of test levels under the sadistic guiding eye of a GLaDOS-like AI.

When you're in the dark, you're safe - but the second you step out into the light everything from lasers to robots and moving platforms all spring to life, eager to end your short little clone of a life.

Tar black

The colours in Stealth Inc are all brilliantly handled. Blacks are so impenetrable and inky that they positively beckon you to hide in them.

When you do, the light on your clone's goggles will shine a bright, reassuring green and when you slide into lighter shadows (partial cover) the light will turn amber.

When you're fully visible, the words "Fully visible" will flash on the bottom of the screen and your clones goggles will glow red. Should you meet an untimely end, well... let's just say the colour of your goggles won't matter much at that point.

The googles themselves present a great visual cue for you to follow as you stealth your way through the obstacles and pitfalls of each level, while the text on the bottom is a great way to second guess yourself into an early grave if you keep your eyes fixed on it.

Caring is sharing

For those who can't get enough of the default levels in Stealth Inc, there's a powerful new level editor included in A Clone in the Dark that gives you full control over level design.

Naturally, you can be a benevolent level designer and make your levels easy to navigate through with a few security cameras to avoid, but what fun is that when you have access to lasers, robots, and robots wielding lasers?

The answer, naturally, is "not very" and the level editor encourages you to put your friends through their paces.

Out of the shadows

Stealth Inc is a fun, but undeniably sadistic, puzzler that lures you in with easy levels before ramping up the difficulty to punishing, Portal-meets-the-jigsaw-puzzle-from-hell levels of difficulty. It's still a great amount of fun to figure out, even when it has you cursing angrily at your Vita.

Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark infiltrates the PSN this summer.

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Matthew Diener
Matthew Diener
Representing the former colonies, Matt keeps the Pocket Gamer news feed updated when sleepy Europeans are sleeping. As a frustrated journalist, diehard gamer and recovering MMO addict, this is pretty much his dream job.