There are some fantastic first-party games on the Wii U, but what is less talked about is the growing, and fantastic, range of indie titles that are available through the eShop. Steal Inc 2: A Game of Clones from Curve Digital (the guys who did Iron Fisticle) is just one of those games.
It is a puzzle game that I’ve exclusively played on the Game Pad, and it is perfectly fitting to be played on the much derided Pad. Each 2D level works very nicely on the small screen. It isn’t full of wonderful bright colours like any of the Mario games, this is very much a dark, crouched in the corner kind of stealth game.
Taking place in the PTI labs, a lab worker is in the business of beating his co-worker to end of month scores. By working late, he hopes to beat his rival, and things are (probably) going all well and good…until your little Stealth dude escapes from the labs.
This kicks off a series of different puzzle levels set within the PTI labs. Not only do you have to navigate each puzzle, you have to navigate the labs to locate your little missions. It is a neat little package topped off by a fun little Portal flavoured narrative whereby the lab worker sends messages along the way, taunting and goading you on. While it is definitely borrowing elements from Valve’s masterpiece, it still stands strong by itself as you explore the facility and save others clones.
Some levels can be completed solely with your one clone you control directly, others allow you to save other clones who might be locked away within the mission. Once you find your friendly clones, they quickly know what switches to jump on and when to jump over the varying platforms that can block your route to the exit. Most of the time they work perfectly, but on occasion you will find yourself wondering why they aren’t moving into place. Of course, sometimes you will be able to follow their jumping patterns when trying to navigate a hazardous area.
It isn’t solely platforms that you must navigate your way past, there are a wide variety of enemies to destroy or sneak past. There are stationary foes and mobile foes, some will shoot on sight, others take a few seconds to identify you. They can all be avoided though, be it through the fortuitous placement of smoke which blocks their vision, or by destroying them. Blowing them up is always fun and you have a variety of tools at your disposal. With some, you can trip a switch that will drop them through a platform onto some mines, or you can use your Inflate-a-Mate.
This tool is mainly used for navigating the levels, it provides you with a platform to climb on or can be inflated to depress a switch. Or, when dealing with foes, you can throw it towards them, and inflate it at just the right moment to destroy the target. There is plenty of fun to be had with experimenting with this little tool.
Some puzzles make great use of the balance between light and dark. Most enemies can’t see you in shadow, so you will find that you have to throw the Inflate-a-Mate around with precision timing to keep you in shadow while the enemies are scanning, and at times you must do this while speedily rushing from platform to platform to open routes through the level as a giant orb chases you.
All in all, there are loads of puzzles to get your teeth stuck into – along with bonuses in each zone of the facility that you explore. The facility itself has many hidden secrets which will allow you to dress up your clone in a variety of funky outfits. It isn’t easy though, I’ve struggled mightily to either identify an obscure solution to the puzzle, or to perfect the timing of different actions. It is fun, but it doesn’t quite match the joys of something like World of Goo which I still hold up as the star of indie puzzle games. If you are a fan of puzzlers, this is a must buy, otherwise be prepared for a challenge.
The Verdict – On Target (leaning to Head Shot for the puzzle lovers)
Platforms Available/Reviewed – Wii U
Please see this post for more on our scoring policy. Review code supplied by developer.