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Stealth

Hot takes photo
Hot takes

The Marvellous Miss Take is all about the burglary, baby


PFT Commenter's sister am I right folks???
Nov 24
// Steven Hansen
The Marvellous Miss Take is a good, Saturday morning carton style name for a thief, but in today's #content economy I think Miss Take is depriving herself of an even more lucrative scheme: the hot take. Just a thought f...

Review: Sneaky Sneaky

Nov 23 // Darren Nakamura
Sneaky Sneaky (Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Naiad EntertainmentPublisher: Naiad EntertainmentReleased: November 12, 2014MSRP: $4.99Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit The basic idea behind Sneaky Sneaky is pretty original. As long as the titular thief remains undetected by any enemies in a room, he can move about the Legend of Zelda-esque rooms freely. Once he is spotted by or otherwise alerts a sentry, gameplay slows down to a turn-based affair. Whether Sneaky or the enemies move first depends on if he initiated the encounter through an attack or if he was detected. It sounds good on paper, but therein lies one of the frustrating bits of Sneaky Sneaky, at least early on. With low starting health, being detected almost always results in an automatic fail state where multiple enemies hone in and whale away until the thief explodes in a puff of smoke. The penalty for dying is fairly low: the player must only restart the current room and sacrifice a point bonus at the end of the level, but it is still irritating when a misclick spells automatic failure. [embed]284177:56424:0[/embed] Sneaky can hide in haystacks and bushes; he is safe as long as no enemy tries to enter his space on the grid and nobody watched him enter the space. The different enemies have varying vision cones and movement patterns, and if Sneaky can land a knife attack from outside his target's line of sight, he receives a damage bonus to the attack and a healthy point bonus for the level. In fact, points are awarded for non-stealth kills too. It is a little counter-intuitive for a stealth game; clumsily setting sentries off and cleaning up the mistake is worth more in the end than an artful pacifist route. Since stealth kills are worth the most, it becomes a game about entering a room and calculating the best way to systematically assassinate everyone there. This is not inherently flawed gameplay, and in fact it is entertaining enough once it is clear that is the true goal, but it seems inconsistent with the narrative of a thief whose primary focus is treasure. What throws a wrench in early on is that some enemies move around randomly. When foes have a set path or pattern, then real planning is possible. When there is no predicting where something will move next, then there is no way to safely sneak up behind it, and getting a stealth kill often involves sitting in a patch of tall grass for what feels like several minutes, just waiting for it to happen by. There is a consumable item that helps with situations like this, but as a consumable it may not always be on hand. As the game progresses, new enemies and obstacles show up, and new items are introduced to circumvent those enemies and obstacles. Some of the additions are helpful in keeping the experience feeling fresh, but for the most part the best rooms are the ones that can be solved with careful planning, particular movement, and an undetected knife to the back. Admittedly, that describes the last set of levels well. If the entire game played like the third act, it would be a great little title. Fortunately, getting to the third set of levels is fairly easy. Even with the automatic failures of the early levels, the scoring system is forgiving. After completing a level with what feels like a dismal run fraught with detection and death, a gold medal is still awarded easily. In fact, I never received anything lower than a gold medal, and only had to return to a level once for a ruby that can only be obtained after gaining access to a later tool. Thus is the enigma that is Sneaky Sneaky. It is simultaneously too harsh and too forgiving. It requires too much waiting to optimally solve some rooms and too much rushing for others. It does some things well, but then for the sake of variety it introduces other elements that serve only to muddle the experience. If the game were just about an assassin with a knife put into a sequence of puzzle rooms without any RPG-lite character progression, it would be greater for the simplicity. Still, Sneaky Sneaky is not a bad game. At five bucks for about two hours of gameplay, I could even recommend it to fans of stealth and/or puzzles. But it is by no means a must-play, even for fans of those genres.
Sneaky Sneaky review photo
Slow and stealthy
Stealth is a tricky game mechanic to pull off well. If it is too slow it can be dull, but if it is too fast it is more action than stealth. If it is too predictable it becomes mundane, but if it is too random it requires more...

Metal Gear Solid PC photo
Metal Gear Solid PC

Fun with sliders: Ground Zeroes looks noticeably better on PC


Releasing December 18 on Steam
Nov 21
// Jordan Devore
Nvidia and Konami have released screenshots comparing next month's PC release of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes with the PlayStation 4 version, and I'm glad I waited. Officially, this is what's new: Additional deferred li...
Heat Signature photo
Heat Signature

Even failing looks fun in Heat Signature


Covertly board ships or die trying
Nov 19
// Jordan Devore
Just like with Gunpoint, it's a joy to watch designer Tom Francis play Heat Signature, wonky wrench physics and all, while it's still in development. It's as if he's making the game solely for himself and, hey, if the rest o...
FPS locked at 60 photo
FPS locked at 60

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes' minimum PC specs


FPS locked at 60
Nov 19
// Steven Hansen
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, the prequel bit to Phantom Pain, is coming to Steam next month, December 18. Will you be able to play it? Appears I'd just be able to, according to the specs here, if my computer wasn't...

Crookz brings 1970s style and swagger to heist gameplay

Nov 14 // Alessandro Fillari
Crookz (PC [Previewed], Mac, SteamOS)Developer: SkillTree StudiosPublisher: Kalypso MediaRelease Date: Q2 2015 Set in the 1970s, Crookz places you in charge of a group of thieves, grifters, burglars, and other sneaky individuals in order to break into secure locations that house loot and other treasures. As the trailer suggests, the people you're robbing are sleazy and shady folk that certainly have whats coming to them, and it's your job to ensure the cash moves from their pockets to yours. With each successful score, you expand your arsenal of gadgets and crew members, while taking on increasingly more difficult jobs that will test your skills as a pro robber. While most games follows the more action oriented approach to heists, Crookz takes a very different stab at it by turning it into a quasi puzzle-strategy experience. Instead of getting into massive shootouts and high-speed chances, seeking to emulate the infamous bank heist scene from Heat, you'll have to plan each move step-by-step and utilize your crew's strengths and weaknesses to covertly break into secure locations and procure valuable items and intel. [embed]283824:56325:0[/embed] Similar to a real-time-strategy experience, you can move your characters to specific points on the map, while using their abilities on the fly as you evade guards and avoid alarms. During our demo, we were taking part in a score at a private mansion, and it was loaded with guards and other traps. While it looked daunting at first, it was readily apparent what was required for the score. For every heist, you'll need the right people for the job. Before each mission, you can outfit them with various gadgets and augment their skills to facilitate the needs of the heist. With several characters classes, such as Runner, Tough Guy, Locksmith, Hacker, and of course Robot -- you'll have to learn the lay of the land and get a read on things to succeed. For the mansion job, the runner, tough guy, and locksmith were able to break into the site with ease and take out guards while making it to the loot. If you're unsure of what you need to do, you can take your time and go through each step to figure out the best course of action. But if you're an especially clever planner, than you can meticulously analysis the layout of the environment, guard routes, and security systems to plan out your heist step by step. If done right, you can watch as your crew methodically and expertly tackles the score as if you were witnessing a Rube Goldberg Machine at work with the style and grace of Ocean's Eleven. I found the style and presentation to Crookz to be very refreshing for the heist genre. The music and atmosphere evokes the hip and energetic style of caper films from the 1970s. The music in particular is very much exciting and smooth, the themes throughout the heists pull from influential period films such as Shaft or Deep Throat. In any event, it works well. It has style and swagger in spades, and it feels exciting to play through a heist game that manages to not take itself too seriously, while still looking cool as you pull off the score. Set for release Q2 2015, Crookz is very interesting blend of puzzle and strategy elements sent across the backdrop of 1970s heist thrillers. I'm quite the fan of the era, and the style it evokes is very refreshing to see. With over 20 different mission and some online challenges to tackle, it's very rare to see heist game like this, and I'm very much looking forward to checking more.
Crookz photo
Cleopatra Jones and the Funky Bunch
What happened to the style and cleverness that came from heist thrillers? I remember watching films like Ocean's Eleven and Thief, that had little to no action or shooting. But now, these high-pressure and tense moments just ...

Review: Assassin's Creed Unity

Nov 11 // Chris Carter
Assassin's Creed Unity (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Ubisoft MontrealPublisher: UbisoftRelease:  November 11, 2014MSRP: $59.99 Unity once again adapts entirely to an iconic period in world history: the French Revolution of the 18th century. Without delay you're reintroduced to the timeless battle of the Templars and Assassins, but this time, the former are on the defensive after a witch hunt from the ruling class. It's at this tenuous time that you'll meet Arno Dorian, the hero of the tale. Much like Ezio, Arno's father is killed right at the start, which leads him to the discovery of a conspiracy involving the two major groups, as well as the awakening of his true power as an assassin. Although his story and subsequent actions are mostly predictable, I was on board with Arno from the get-go. He's not quite as memorable as Ezio or as dashing as Edward, but he's likable, and believable in terms of how the team ties him into the narrative. Ubisoft is clearly getting better at drawing emotional performances out of its subjects, and the current-gen visuals help a lot of the characters come to life like never before -- even if what they're actually doing isn't all that exciting. About an hour into the game, you'll get to the actual revolution, and things kick off nicely. Although Ubisoft once again nails the time period, mirroring events with its own signature faction spin, it doesn't have as much charm as Black Flag did. Gone are the vast open-sea sections, the memorable sea shanties, and the sense that at every turn, some new bit of buried treasure or fortress may be there for the taking. Paris is a huge playground, though -- perhaps one of the biggest single-setting areas so far in the series. As long as you don't mind that many areas look similar to one another (there's not enough district variation as in other Assassin's Creed games), there's quite a bit of ground to cover here. The modern half of the story -- or should I say, the modern fraction -- is a lot less prevalent this time around. At the start you're billed as yet another employee of Abstergo Entertainment, the modern-day incarnation of the Templar order, and every three to four hours you'll be contacted by Desmond's crew for a quick briefing on what's going on in the current age as you're recruited into the Assassin order. It's basically more "Templars are bad, mmkay" dialog, and you'll quickly be ported back into Arno's tale after the short expositions. [embed]283448:56272:0[/embed] In fact, everything outside of the 18th-century Arno core is streamlined. There are only three bits of gameplay where you aren't exploring the revolution, which deal with three specific periods in time throughout France's history: the 1800s, Nazi-occupied Paris, and the Middle Ages. These sections are, for a lack of a better word, unified (and roughly 15 minutes long each), and for those of you who aren't fans of the overarching modern-day story, you'll be pleased to know that it's almost non-existent. If you dig it, you may want to look elsewhere to get your fix. I'm not a huge fan of the modern stuff, but I could have stood for a little more of it, much in the vein of Black Flag. Gameplay is relatively the same, with the completely new addition to free run "up or down" by holding the run trigger and a specific button. It's mostly the same as before with a couple of extra button taps to get used to, but the movement system thankfully prevents more accidents than in previous games; you'll rarely jump off cliffs to your doom now because you accidentally jimmied a direction in a way your character didn't like. The animations are also smoother, and I specifically noticed a lot more variation with Arno's parkouring like extra spin moves and tumbles, which were a neat surprise. Unity also adds a more RPG-like element to the game -- the ability to "level up" by doing more missions, gaining new powers in the process. These are things like more health, better lockpicking skills, abilities like restoring your ammo at will, and gaining new close-combat moves. I like this addition since it allows you to build your character the way you want from the start without getting into the minutiae of skill points or anything in-depth. You earn points by doing random actions out in the wild, which encourages you to start tussles and actively level-up. In terms of gear, everything is more streamlined this time around, and you won't be fumbling around gigantic menus to access different variations of smoke bombs. Instead, Ubisoft kept things simple with a few flashy pieces of gear, a sidearm, and the new Phantom Blade -- which is a fancy way of saying "powerful projectile" -- that can be used for long-range assassinations. Like the story, it's not elaborate or new, but it gets the job done and there's enough tools to have fun in multiple situations. Even better, you can fully customize Arno by purchasing new clothes, uniforms, and weapons all from a simple menu. It's a welcome addition, especially since you can switch up Arno's threads right from the start, changing his new blue look to the iconic white setup. There's over 100 different outfit combinations, including classic costumes with a few unlock requirements. The biggest upgrade in Unity has to be the bigger crowds as a result of the current-gen push, and it's noticeable from the start. It's unreal to see a couple hundred citizens rage in what feels like a real revolution, and it feels like a real struggle at points, which is unique to Unity. The draw distance is also greatly improved. You can see the Parisian countryside in the background at nearly all times. Indoor settings are also a sight to behold, as my jaw actually dropped after seeing the interior of the Notre-Dame Cathedral for the first time. Unfortunately, Ubisoft seems to have had some issues adapting the series to current-gen systems; I encountered a number of nasty glitches on the Xbox One. For starters, the most common ones were constantly repeating dialog during key story parts, issues with the close-combat animations, some freezing while climbing tall structures, and falling through the floor during the start of certain missions. Since Unity offers checkpoints constantly it wasn't really a game-breaking affair, but I encountered at least one small glitch every two missions or so. Enough for the technical issues to get annoying. The actual mission types don't stray too far from the classic formula, but there are occasionally more open-ended events that are less structured. I wouldn't say they're necessarily "organic" as described by the developer, since they just add a few optional objectives that make the mission slightly easier, but they're a nice way to jazz up assassination missions, as they make you think of ways to solve a problem other than "get to the target and kill him." If you're a completionist, you'll enjoy the murder mystery optional missions, which allow you to gather evidence and accuse citizens of a crime, netting a "first try" bonus if you get it right. The crowds are also more dynamic this time around; there are thieves to tackle and criminals to stop randomly throughout the town, signified by miniature missions that can just pop up on your map. It's not a new idea, but it's nice to see something happen out in the world that helps those mesmerizing crowds seem more life-like. There's also "Paris Stories" to complete (involving iconic figures in French history), the aforementioned three extra time periods to explore in the form of additional obstacle courses, and of course, funny database entries by Shaun the Assassin. Multiplayer this time around is stripped down in favor of a streamlined co-op experience. There's no competitive element in Unity, no second disc to insert or menu option to select -- it's all built into the campaign in one giant mode. It's the same world as the core story, but with certain missions you can use matchmaking or partner up with three friends to tackle them as a team. It's inoffensive at its worst, as there are some exclusive co-op missions you can play that can't be done solo, and it all fits nicely into Unity without feeling forced. I'm fine with the removal of the competitive gametype, because almost every single game since Brotherhood has included it. It's time to try something different, and although co-op didn't set my world on fire, it does have potential that can be better realized down the line. My lack of enthusiasm for the multiplayer is mirrored by my experience with the rest of the game. Unity does take a few extra strides towards advancing the series, but in many ways it feels like a step back from Black Flag. It was fun to roam around Paris looking for trouble and ogle at the power of current-gen consoles, but the game lacks that grand sense of roaming the uncharted seas in Assassin's Creed IV, or even the open-ended feel of the wilderness in Assassin's Creed III. In other words, it struggles to make its own mark on the franchise outside of the new French Revolution setting. If Ubisoft fixes the glitches, Assassin's Creed: Unity will be a much stronger game, even if the ceiling is a bit lower in general. Unity's potential is not as strong as some of the better entries in the series, but it's good enough for existing fans to continue the journey.
Assassin's Creed review photo
Liberty, equality, fraternity, or death
Assassin's Creed IV was a turning point for the series. While a lot of fans were disappointed by the pointless Revelations and the polarizing Assassin's Creed III, Black Flag delivered everything you could possibly ...

Heat Signature  photo
Heat Signature

Gunpoint designer and artist team up for Heat Signature


The space game about infiltrating ships
Nov 07
// Jordan Devore
Gunpoint designer Tom Francis' next title, Heat Signature, has art! Well, new art, I should say. The stuff we saw previously for this spaceship heist game was just placeholder. John Roberts, who did the art on Gunpoint, has j...
The Swindle photo
The Swindle

The Swindle will hack your difference engine in 2015


Size Five Games' steampunk burglar sim is easy on the eyes
Oct 31
// Rob Morrow
Size Five Games, previously known as Zombie Cow Studios (the studio behind the twin-stick edutainment STD shooter Privates and point-and-click adventure titles such as Time Gentleman, Please!), has released the debut trailer...
Basingstoke photo
Basingstoke

Bask in the glory that is Basingstoke


The game silly, not the actual town...
Oct 25
// Rob Morrow
Puppygames is at it again, this time revealing a bit more of the action you'll likely encounter in its upcoming stealthy roguelike Basingstoke. It's probably no secret by this point that Basingstoke is high up on my lis...

Metrocide is a thinking person's Hotline Miami

Oct 21 // Rob Morrow
[embed]282810:56025:0[/embed] This is just one of the many delightful nuances Flat Earth has built into the game. From the time I spent with it during the last week or so, I found that aspects of Metrocide's difficulty seem to align well with my experiences playing the pen-and-paper role-playing game Shadowrun. For every advantage you gain, there's a tradeoff. Some items may seem to give you the upper hand, but the game's rules still manage to balance things out, tasking you, the player, to be ever more thoughtful if you want to successfully leverage your new hardware. One of the biggest surprises I experienced while playing Metrocide was witnessing the emergent AI behavior -- the world reacts to itself depending on the current conditions in the game. I pulled my gun on a target and realized too late that he was also armed (and much faster on the draw than I was), when seemingly out of nowhere, he drops to the sidewalk in front of me in a pool of blood -- shot dead from behind by an armed vigilante when he drew his weapon. Mission complete. I'd managed to fire off no rounds during the hit, still collected my reward, and now the vigilante is the suspect of the crime rather than me. Brilliant. Metrocide is a thinking person's Hotline Miami. Yes, the game will still allow you to run in guns blazing, but you're going to need a hell of a lot of luck to pull off your hits. Not only do you stand a good chance of being shot dead in the streets by vigilantes if you're seen brandishing a gun, you'll also draw the unwanted attention of the police drones. Once they're investigating an area of the map, you're better off avoiding it completely. If you catch their attention, they shoot on sight and there's no way to outrun them. Patience and creativity are rewarded in this bleak dystopian cityscape, not recklessness. Taking your time and thinking about what you're doing allows this title to shine. Unlike other stealth-based games that I've played, I was never bored while preparing to make my move. The city is far too reactive to let that happen. The AI surrounding you makes every hit different in one way or another. You never know how things are going to play out, so you have to always be flexible in your tactics, which I'm sure will add tremendously to the game's replay value. Metrocide is not a perfect fit for everyone. It's a challenging little game that features the the love-it or hate-it permadeath gameplay mechanic. It also doesn't rely on realistic graphics or an interactive open world to be engaging; but, if you're willing to look past these aspects of the project, I think you'll find an intriguing game that rewards persistence, restraint, and creativity. If you're interested in trying it out for yourself or would just like to learn a bit more about it, you can do so by visiting the title's Steam Early Access page for more details.
Metrocide Early Access photo
Flat Earth's top-down murder sim impresses
Sydney-based independent studio Flat Earth Games has released its top-down cyberpunk-noir contract killing simulator Metrocide via Steam Early Access at the reduced price of $6.99. The final version of the game, which should ...

MGS V: Ground Zeroes photo
MGS V: Ground Zeroes

MGS V: Ground Zeroes zeroes in on Steam this December


Still no word on The Phantom Pain
Oct 06
// Brett Makedonski
While everyone's eagerly awaiting the release date for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Konami's opted to temporarily satiate the PC crowd. Ground Zeroes, the prologue to The Phantom Pain, will release on Steam on Decemb...
Basingstoke gameplay photo
Basingstoke gameplay

In the world of Basingstoke, even dessicated corpses look cute


Enjoy just under six minutes of the adorable-looking stealth roguelike
Oct 03
// Rob Morrow
It's been a while since we last talked about Puppygames' newest project, the creepy/adorable stealth-roguelike Basingstoke, so I thought it would be a good idea to check in with the developers and see how things are coming ...
Black The Fall photo
Black The Fall

Sand Sailor's atmospheric Black The Fall slinks to Kickstarter


A stealth-action puzzle platformer inspired by totalitarianism
Oct 02
// Rob Morrow
Romanian development studio Sand Sailor has recently taken to Kickstarter to fund its stealth-action platformer, Black The Fall. Inspired by the communist country they grew up in, the developers would like their game to impa...
Calvino Noir photo
Calvino Noir

Calvino Noir is a European, smoky, noir-ish stealth game


You can almost hear the sousaphone
Oct 01
// Alasdair Duncan
I think I've probably made it clear that I like a good stealth game and thankfully I had the chance to try out the lovely-looking Calvino Noir at EGX. Set in post-war Austria (I forgot to ask which war... whoops), players con...
Metrocide walkthrough photo
Metrocide walkthrough

Metrocide gets a developer walkthrough, Early Access coming in October


Flat Earth Games walks us through the first few minutes of Metrocide
Sep 30
// Rob Morrow
Flat Earth Games, comprised of brothers Leigh and Rohan Harris, walk us through the first few minutes of their new top-down, cyberpunk-noir, contract killing simulator, Metrocide. In the grim, futuristic world of Metrocide, ...
Paradise Lost photo
Paradise Lost

Metroidvania stealth title Paradise Lost pushed to mid-2015


Refining core mechanics and animation takes time
Sep 26
// Jordan Devore
Paradise Lost: First Contact, otherwise known as "that game with all of the squiggles," will not launch on PC, Mac, Linux, and Wii U this year as originally intended. Developer Asthree Works is pushing the release of the alie...

Diamond in the ruff: MGSV: Phantom Pain in English

Sep 26 // Steven Hansen
[embed]281660:55752:0[/embed]
Yes, please photo
TGS footage
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain's E3 showing stirred a deep love from within my belly. More games like this, I thought, stuffed with a wealth of deep and idiosyncratic mechanics. I missed the TGS Phantom Pain showi...

MGSV gallery photo
MGSV gallery

A closer look at Metal Gear Solid V's eyepatch-wearing dog companion


He had better not die
Sep 24
// Jordan Devore
Oh, how I love Diamond Dog. He's my BFF. Following that 20 minutes of Metal Gear Solid V footage out of Tokyo Game Show, here are some related screenshots featuring the pup, Quiet, and Snake's robot hand doing its thing. So, so glad The Phantom Pain is coming to PC as well as consoles.
MGS V photo
MGS V

The ghost from P.T. is in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain


She's a decoy!
Sep 23
// Jordan Devore
In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, players will be able to use Lisa, the apparition from P.T., as a decoy. It's times like these that remind me why I adore videogames. The little touches, y'know? The weirder, the bette...
Assassin's Creed in China photo
Well that's one way to placate fans
Ubisoft has unveiled the current DLC plans for Assassin's Creed Unity by way of their Season Pass, and it's a doozy. Firstly, you'll be getting a new story campaign that takes place after Unity. It deals with a set of un...

Attack of the Clone photo
Attack of the Clone

Unleash the technicolor yawn in this latest trailer for Styx: Master of Shadows


Who knew that throwing up would create so many strategic opportunities?
Sep 14
// Rob Morrow
In the latest skills-focused trailer for Styx: Master of Shadows, Cyanide Studios sheds some light on the clone-barfing ability we mentioned back in July. Your clone is one of four Amber-fueled powers that you will...
Monaco tops 1MM sales photo
Monaco tops 1MM sales

Monaco: What's Yours is Mine sells 1 million


Indie stealth action game achieves major milestone
Sep 13
// Kyle MacGregor
Sales of stealth action game Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine have surpassed the one million mark, developer Pocketwatch games announced this week. Monaco was the big winner at GDC's Independent Games Festival in 2010, ...
Nightcrawler photo
The Phantom Pain's resident raccoon
...And that's it. Well, there are some angry raccoon eyes at the end, too.  Wait. Clearly the soldiers see the helicopter above them. And Quiet doesn't even turn invisible until she's mid-fall. Why even turn invisible a...

Styx photo
Styx

Styx: Master of Shadows apes Ubisoft with 'Assassin's Green' trailer


Coming in October
Sep 04
// Chris Carter
Styx: Master of Shadows is described as an "infiltration game," and it's coming next month from developer Cyanide Studios. It'll hit the PS4, Xbox One, and PC platforms, and promises expansive worlds and stealth gameplay. You can check out the above video to get a look for yourself at some of the gruesome deaths you'll be able to enact. The game is being released as a downloadable-only title.

Review: CounterSpy

Aug 20 // Steven Hansen
CounterSpy (PS3, PS4, Vita)Developer: DynamightyPublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentRelease: August 19, 2014 MSRP: $14.99 As an agent for the group COUNTER, your goal is to infiltrate the thinly veiled Imperialist States and Socialist Republic to stop their shared goal of a nuclear strike on the moon. This involves stealing launch plans, though in your espionage you'll also have chances to steal information (traded for petty cash) and blueprints for new weapons (bought with petty cash) or temporary buffs (more health). Each side has a DEFCON level (5 being lowest, 1 being highest). If you are bad at stealth and put yourself in view of cameras or alert guards, it raises. If you die, it goes up a full point. If it goes past 1, you have a minute to reach the end of a level and stop whichever side you're infiltrating from firing their nukes. These levels also persist throughout your playthrough (a couple hours, roughly), but can be lowered a point by making officers surrender. Loading times between levels are actually a bit long, likely because the levels are being procedurally generated, modules being stitched together. The result is disjointed and feels like a cover up for the short run time. Most levels begin with a wide run up towards a facility you're meant to infiltrate. The camera doesn't pan back enough, so this often means running up on a guard that you, the player, couldn't see though he is in your spy's line of sight. This meant starting every level with a slow creep and hoping by the time you get to the initial guard (or close enough to see him), he wouldn't be facing you. Stealth is not necessary to get through the game, but linking stealth kills is the best way to get a high score.  [embed]278520:54987:0[/embed] You can do some stealth things. You can perform takedowns from behind or while in cover. You can take headshots (later, with a silenced pistol). But sometimes you'll leave a room, a module, through a door and come into the next bit with a guard looking right at you. There is no way to know and it kills your stealth combo. Often you will come into "2.5D" shooting gallery rooms that encourage you to take cover and try to stealthily pick off guards with an over-the-shoulder view. If you're patient, it's probably possible, but those rooms, sometimes filled with a good seven enemies milling about, tend to turn into loud shooting galleries.  It's almost like playing a puzzle game with occasional twitch shooting rather than a stealth game, especially when rooms have nothing to do with each other, aside from the DEFCON level trying to string things cohesively together. It feels patchwork because it is. It could work for quick, high score chasing, yet when you have no way of knowing if going through the only door to proceed is going to kill your score, that's sort of a bummer.  CounterSpy nails its style. The angular art, the tight animation. Even the 2.5D cover mechanic stuff, the over-the-shoulder shooting, looks cool. But there is a weird tonal inconsistency to the whole thing that leaves it feeling unfinished despite the polish. The absurdist premise meant to invoke Dr. Strangelove is half-heartedly written with laziness that pretends at deadpan while the stealth is undercut by the stitched-together rooms used instead of careful design.
CounterSpy review photo
With spies like us...
CounterSpy's stylized Cold War re-imagining is on point. It looks good, with its spindly spy running, rolling, and leaping like a jumping spider. It sounds good, with its jazzy soundtrack that reminds of James Bond.  Unfortunately, the rest of it feels half-baked. 

Puppygames new game photo
Puppygames new game

Puppygames goes broke, announces Basingstoke


A brutal arcade roguelike on a very tight schedule
Aug 19
// Rob Morrow
UK independent game studio Puppygames recently announced via blog post that it is running out of money. In fact, the team admits that it is broke: "Due to several decisions of dubious merit last year we've ended up wasting mo...
Ghost of a Tale photo
Ghost of a Tale

Indiegogo project Ghost of a Tale makes an appearance at gamescom 2014


Tilo the mouse explores dungeons, flees from crabs
Aug 17
// Rob Morrow
SeithCG's ridiculously adorable stealth-action-adventure title, Ghost of a Tale (or GoaT for short) sneaks its way into gamescom in this newest trailer. Since its humble Indiegogo origins, Ghost of a Tale has progr...
To dye for photo
To dye for

Invisible, Inc.'s tactical espionage action hits Early Access August 19


To dye for
Aug 14
// Steven Hansen
Invisible, Inc. is going to be one of my obsessions this year. Enough that I am actually going to play a game while it's in Steam Early Access (PC, Mac) rather than waiting for the hard launch. Plus, it will be priced at $16 while in Early Access before bumping up to $20 at launch.
Metrocide photo
Metrocide

Grand Theft Blade Runner: Flat Earth's Metrocide


A top-down, stealth-action murder simulator
Aug 08
// Rob Morrow
Described as a brutal stealth-action game inspired by titles like Syndicate and Grand Theft Auto, Flat Earth's Metrocide has me very, very interested. With a visual style that appears right at home in Devolver Digital's st...

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