Review: Stealth Inc: The Teleporter Chambers (PS3)
When 2011’s stealth puzzle platformer Stealth Bastard released on PlayStation 3 and PS Vita earlier this year (under the new name Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark, as Sony wanted something “less profane”), it was met with a positive reception from critics and gamers around the world.
And with good reason - it’s a fantastic, if fiendishly difficult, game.
The Teleporter Chambers expands on the formula of the first with the introduction of teleporters (as you might guess from the name) and 20 new levels built around them.
STEALTH INC: A CLONE IN THE DARK
Before going into a review of The Teleporter Chambers, I’m going to give you a brief review of the base game, so you have a point of comparison.
Stealth Inc is a puzzle platformer built largely around the premise of stealth (as you may have guessed.)
Playing one of a swarm of human clones in a testing facility, you have to get to the respective exits of a series of increasingly difficult levels by sticking to the shadows and avoiding detection by murderous robots.
When you die - note I said “when”, not “if” - the game will taunt you with a cheeky message, and you’ll respawn as the next in an endless string of clones.
Despite the stealth element, and the fact that the original PC release was subtitled “Tactical Espionage Arsehole”, Stealth Inc doesn’t have a whole lot in common with stealth action games like Metal Gear Solid (the first of which was subtitled Tactical Espionage Action.)
The stealth action genre is generally more open-ended, giving you a range of options to deal with a given situation; Stealth Inc, on the other hand, is very strictly a puzzle platformer.
Levels are made up of a series of purpose-built puzzles with specific solutions that you’ll need to uncover.
This is far from a criticism, and the brilliant design of the puzzles are part of what makes the game as excellent as it is, but if you might be disappointed if you’re looking for something more action-oriented.
As I said before, the game is difficult. Brutally so.But it rarely makes you feel truly frustrated; quick reloading and generous checkpoints mean that repeated deaths are far from as tedious as they could be.
A lot of the difficulty comes from smart level design, with some puzzles that will really stretch your grey matter, but the game does also live up to the “platformer” side of the puzzle platformer tag by demanding quick reflexes and precise movements at times.
THE TELEPORTER CHAMBERS
The first DLC package for Stealth Inc sticks closely to the formula that made the base game such a hit, but that’s not to say it doesn’t bring anything new to the table.
All 20 of the new levels augment Stealth Inc’s mechanics with a new feature (teleporters) that keeps everything fresh, allowing for some even more creative - and ruthless - puzzles.
Throughout each level in the DLC are vending machines which will drop a pair of teleporters when you interact with them. You can pick the teleporters up and toss them around, and - of course - zip between them.
It’s a fairly simple mechanic, but it works fantastically for the most part.
As well as teleporting between the gadgets, you can use them to move enemies around, which becomes fundamental for solving later puzzles.
You’ll often need to move a robot to a specific platform, so that you can get through a door that only opens while a switch is triggered by being stood on, for example.
The level elements themselves also interact with the new mechanic in interesting ways.
Plenty of puzzles make use of walls through which teleporters can pass, but clones can’t; you’ll need to throw your gadgets to the other side, then zap yourself across to get past them.
Some levels have additional teleporters on the walls and floors, and task you with chucking one of your portable ones through it so that you can get it onto a platform that a regular throw won’t reach.
All this amounts to puzzles that are arguably even more demanding than the base game, but boy does it feel good when you finally click onto the solution.
With this new mechanic come some new woes, though, primarily in the control department. It’s not far into the DLC that quick, accurate throwing of the teleporters is crucial for success, but the controls get in the way more often than they should.
Rather than a 360 degree throwing arc, you can only aim along four specific angles, and with analogue controls, it can be easy to mess up your aim.
It’s worth noting, though, that this is much more of an issue on Vita than on PS3, due to the larger thumbsticks on the DualShock 3.
Another problem arises when you’re aiming, and you find yourself facing the wrong way (which happens more frequently than you’d expect.)
For some bizarre reason, you can only aim in the direction you’re facing, and can’t turn around while the throwing arc is on screen.
Dropping your aim, turning around, and lining up the throw again only takes a fraction of a second - but more often than not, it’s a fraction of a second that you can’t spare.
Still, the extra content on offer in The Teleporter Chambers is, overall, a fantastic addition to the game. If you liked Stealth Inc, you’ll like this new DLC, and it’s a steal at $6.55.
Stealth Inc: The Teleporter Chambers
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PSVita
From: Curve Digital