Curve Studios has quickly become a household name for Nintendo indie fans, but originally that wasn\’t the case. Besides a WiiWare and a 3DS release, Curve Studios has mainly focused on the Sony side of things, both developing and publishing several top-notch titles. Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark was a PS3 and Vita title that received a lot of critical and fan recognition as being one of the top indie titles on the platforms, so when it was announced that the sequel was a Wii U eShop exclusive, it caught a lot of people by surprise. Along with that, the company is also publishing several other indie games for the Wii U, such as Lone Survivor, which we gave a high review score to. So is Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones a successful predecessor like Sonic the Hedgehog 2, or is it more of an Actraiser 2 and more of a step-back for the franchise?
As indicated by the name, Stealth Inc. 2 is primarily a stealth game with heavy platforming involved. You play the role of a clone with some snazzy goggles who is locked in a testing facility. Being a clone, you are not the only one here in this facility, so you must try and rescue as many of your clone brethren from the evil scientist’s experiments that will certainly lead to their death. It’s a simple story that is told through comic book-style cut scenes, and while these are a bit bland and drab at times, they convey the story well enough to get the message across. One thing that managed to stick out to me as far as the story is concerned is that the game will display messages on the walls of levels that taunt you and attempt to trick you, which is a great tutorial method.
One of the more impressive features of the game is the graphics, which are absolutely top-notch. The game runs at a solid 60 FPS, and I never experienced any sort of slow down or dip in the frame rate in my many hours with the game. Your clone moves with absolute fluidness and the environments are very detailed and pleasing. When you die from a trap – and you will die, trust me – a large grizzly blood splatter emits from your clones body. The facility itself that you explore is also a treat for the eyes, with many areas having distinct styles and color schemes. Couple the fantastic graphics with an excellent soundtrack and great sound effects, and you have a very aesthetically pleasing game that assaults your eyes and ears with goodness.
All of this would be irrelevant if the gameplay didn\’t match the visuals and sounds, but Stealth Inc. 2 manages to actually supersede the impressive aesthetics of the game. Controlling your clones is an absolute breeze, which is great, because the game can be punishingly difficult with traps and environmental hazards. While the game sets you off in a Metroidvania style Facility that you explore, the meat of the game is based within levels inside of the facility. There are a total of 60 of these levels, and with increasing difficult every segment, be prepared to be a little frustrated at times. Luckily, the game is so smooth that there is no loading (or even waiting time) between death and your next life, which is an excellent design mechanic.
In the levels, you have unlimited time and lives, but using them to your best ability is the smartest way to go, because you are graded on this. At the end of each level you are given a grade, along with your final time. The time is then posted on an online leaderboard, which really helps extend an already beefy game. In later levels, you are given gadgets to solve more advanced puzzles and reach the end of the level, and combining this aspect with the already tricky puzzles makes for a very interesting experience. One false move or discovery from a camera or turret, though, can make for a bloody death.
Stealth Inc. 2 also offers co-op play which is unlocked early in the game, and this is one of the best local co-op experiences on the Wii U. With one player using a Wii U Controller (or Wiimote/Nunchuck) to control the clone, the second player uses the GamePad. The clone will use the standard TV screen, while the hacker has lots of unique things he can do on the GamePad. For instance, when a clone hacks a computer terminal, the GamePad user must input the number on the GamePad. The GamePad user also can make invisible enemies visible and use items. It really adds a cooperation element that many Wii U games seem to lack. And, since the game is easy enough for anyone to pick up and play, the more advanced gamer can use the GamePad and guide the clone (the less experienced player) and succeed in levels with ease.
As if the game wasn\’t already beefy enough, Curve Studios included a Level Editor mode that allows you to create your own levels with ease. Place dangerous traps and try to kill and fool your friends at your house, or you can even upload them to a Community Levels feature. You can filter your search through community levels and even rate them for other users to see. The best part is that playing a community level takes literally one second to download and be available to play, so if a level isn\’t up to your liking, no problem. Also scattered throughout the Facility are different head and body gear for your clone, which extends the replay-ability even more.
Besides the personal preference on the story telling comic-book style, the only real concern with the game is that there is a heavy emphasis on trial and error, which could turn those less patient off. However, those with even just a little bit of patience are advised to pick up Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones. With tons of content, top-notch graphics and audio, and pin point controls, Stealth Inc. 2 is an easy consideration for one of the best eShop games of 2014. Couple that with amazing local co-op that uses the GamePad in an excellent manner, and you have possibly one of the best overall Wii U games of 2014.