When I first heard that Stealth Inc. 2 was a Wii U exclusive, I was puzzled. As somebody that thoroughly enjoyed its predecessor, I was excited to hear that a sequel was on the way – but why Wii U? Having now played this sequel, it becomes clear that Curve Studios still had a lot more ideas to play with – in terms of both gameplay, and with regards to how the Wii U’s GamePad controller could be used to expand on the original’s mechanics.
While the core game remains largely unchanged, new elements have been built around what made the original Stealth Inc. so enjoyable, resulting in a much more complete – and challenging – experience.
The most obvious is its Metroid-inspired overworld, which houses each of the game’s Test Chambers. The previous game’s level select screen does return, but it only serves the purpose of conveniently accessing levels you’ve already completed. I’m not suggesting that the overworld is an unwelcome addition, although Stealth Inc.’s concise menu system was missed during certain moments of frustration – particularly when the game throws in some precision platforming segments that were reminiscent of VVVVVV and Super Meat Boy.
Look past the unnecessarily difficult hub world, though, and fans of the original will be right at home. Leaderboards will give you a benchmark to aim for before you enter a particular Test Chamber, while replay value will be extended furthermore with an end-of-level ranking based on your performance.
The puzzles themselves are as clever and mind-bending as ever, with a difficulty curve that gradually introduces each concept to you as you play, and a dark sense of humour that sees the narrator mocking your deaths until you find a solution.
Thankfully, your deaths’ consequences aren’t too sincere. Yes, your ranking will suffer, but you’ll never find yourself too far from a checkpoint, and the level timer even resets each time you return to one. And when you figure out that you have to hit a switch to move a fan to blow steam in the way of an overlooking turret so you can scuttle past to the exit door, there’s a real sense of satisfaction to be found.
Other levels will give you access to an item, which undoubtedly increases the complexity, and turns up the difficulty in a way that the original didn’t quite get around to. The first item is called the Inflate-a-Mate. It’s a bag that you can throw around, and remotely inflate, to hit switches or destroy enemy robots and the like, and it leads to some often-excrutiating puzzles – even as early as the second themed area.
As for the Wii U GamePad, it goes to some length to make the single-player game a whole lot more accessible, offering a map in the palm of your hands as you traverse the factory on the TV screen – a hell of a lot more convenient than constantly pausing to check your location and destination. Within a single-player Test Chamber it takes something of a backseat, but when you introduce a second player, that’s when it becomes evident why Stealth Inc. 2 is exclusive to Nintendo’s Wii U.
While one player takes on the role of the clone, using a Wii U Pro Controller or Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo, the second harnesses the GamePad’s touch-screen to interact with the environment, making use of items and working co-operatively with the other player to solve each level’s puzzles.
Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones (Wii U) Verdict
When you throw in the ever-competent level editor – and the ability to easily download other players’ creations – Stealth Inc. 2 clearly offers tremendous value for money with a potentially endless stream of content post completing the story. If you’re prepared for the challenge, Stealth Inc. 2 undoubtedly boasts some of the best level design of recent memory; with its blend of puzzles, action and stealth making for a truly unique experience that doubles in value when you add a second player.
Originally published on NintendoInvader.com