If ever there was a disgruntled employee, Malcolm Alderman would be the epitome. He relishes his role as senior quality controller at PTI Resolutions, but his lust for success means that this is for all the wrong reasons. With his team continually competing against one another, Malcolm’s unwavering desire to dethrone colleague Colin Rickman from the leaderboard will eventually lead to his own downfall.
That’s where you come in, a lone clone that rises up against the company that created you. You aren’t alone in your quest for freedom, however, and you will use PTI’s technology against them as you look to escape the facility with any rescued clones in tow. When their untimely demise will see their beaming Super Spy Goggles bundled into a fast food chain’s equivalent of a McDonald’s Happy Meal, it’s hard not to feel for the little blighters. That’s especially true when witnessing the game’s opening, where clones haplessly sacrifice themselves in their efforts to help you survive.
It’s a sorry tale, but one that you will be able to reverse the fortunes of soon enough. PTI Resolutions Facility’s multi-coloured layout on your trusty PTI Terminal may conjure memories of Richard O’Brien gallivanting around Crystal Maze, but its darkened halls present far more sinister challenges. Wary cameras watch while mechanised security robots stalk the laser-ridden corridors for escaped clones, tasking the player with plotting out alternate routes to reach their destination. One wrong move and you will be at risk of being on the receiving end of a laser beam.
I was in a heap by the time that I conquered Curve Digital’s self-styled stealth platformer. While much of your time will be spent carefully trawling your way through the high-tech facility, it is in Test Chambers that your deductive skills will be severely put to the test. These mind-boggling instances promise to have you wracking your brain for hours on end, with a perfectly honed level design that challenges you not only by testing your reflexes but by threatening a grizzly death at every turn. This can frustrate, especially when a solution is unclear and you only have Miiverse at your disposal to ask for any pointers, but is wholly satisfying when you eventually have that “Eureka!” moment.
It is in the equipment that you recover that makes everything so memorable, put to use in eight Test Chambers apiece in plenty of inventive ways by the game’s designers. Whether that be the ever-grinning Inflate-a-Mate that can be used as a weight or to launch you sky high, the Adventure Light which must be neatly positioned to activate sensors or the Me Too device that lets you duplicate yourself, you’ll be amazed at how many different ways that you’ll find yourself being made to put such tools to use. And that’s not even mentioning the Jack Boy and Teleporters.
It is in Co-op Mode that Curve Digital really come into their own, easing the burden on the lone clone by allowing another player to assist them. Collected early on in your adventure, this will see you work in tandem with the player wielding the Wii U GamePad. That comes in the Wii Remote or Wii U Pro Controller player on the TV reading out keypad codes, writing supportive messages that appear on-screen, revealing invisible enemies, or use gadgets to shroud the clone from view, distract enemies or help place equipment when pondering solutions. This is a wonderful way for a more skilled player to guide someone who may be struggling with certain sections, while also inviting the game to be tackled in entirety together.
It’s really clear that time has been taken to understand the hardware’s unique capabilities, which truly allows Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones to easily stand tall above many of the games now populating the Nintendo eShop. Coupled with the expansive use of the concocted gadgetry placed at your clone’s disposal, this is an exceptional display of talent that showcases a conscientious approach to delivering an exclusive entirely catered toward the Wii U.
The game’s audial landscape is dominated by an atmospheric soundtrack that matches the mystery of all that’s placed before you and is executed well to react to the dangerous scenarios you find yourself in. Malcolm continually mocks you in messages projected on the environments around you in an attempt to sway you from your task, and there’s a deserved shout out to whoever penned them.
While the game is understandably set inside the confines of the PTI Resolutions Facility, more visual variance would have been preferred. Outdoor sections where lightning strikes must be considered show promise in doing so, but are all too short lived.
Beyond completion, you can chase elusive ‘S’ rankings for each Test Chamber while looking to climb online leaderboards that compare your successes with other players, or collect hidden customisation items. There’s also a handy Level Editor that allows you to create your own chambers from five sizes, although it would have been useful to have more in-game guidance on how to get started with this. With the chance to upload your levels to be shared with the community, those that are persistent will surely find plenty to enjoy here.
Without question, Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones amounts to being a sensational addition to the Nintendo eShop. With a careful understanding of the Wii U hardware, Curve Digital outshine the many that have failed to take Nintendo’s unique proposition. Punishing players with relentless challenges until the solution clicks rewards like no other, resulting in a game that I can’t recommend highly enough.