Also On: PSN, PS3, PC
Publisher: Curve Studios
Developer: Curve Studios
Over the last few months, the Vita has become home to a whole bunch of incredibly hard games. Off the top of my head, there's Hotline Miami, Pixeljunk Monsters: Ultimate HD, Life of Pixel and Limbo — all of them extremely challenging and, perhaps not coincidentally, all of them extraordinarily good.
As you might have surmised from the page you're reading, there's another name you can add to the list of very difficult/very good Vita games: Stealth Inc. It's arguably the easiest of the bunch, but that's not saying much; for every level I beat, I probably died about 10 to 15 times. Also slightly lessening the level of difficulty is the fact that, as a puzzle-platformer, the game's solutions generally seemed easy enough to figure out, even if they were challenging to pull off. (And, to top it all off, I'm not going to lie or pretend to have any pride: it's not hard to find walkthroughs for the game's PC version, where it was titled Stealth Bastard.)
Of course, what Stealth Inc. lacks in terms of (relative) difficulty, it makes up for with its commitment to constantly reminding you of how terrible you are at the game. Demotivational statements are peppered throughout, along the lines of what GLaDOS says to Chell in the Portal games; they aren't spoken, obviously, but that doesn't make them any less insulting. After you finish each level, the game gives you a letter grade and compares your times with everyone else in the world. Maybe I'm just terrible at the game, but…actually, no, scratch that: going by my grades and my times, I'm definitely terrible at it. Some people — wizards, or perhaps game-playing robots — are evidently amazing at flying through levels with obscenely great times and scoring S-ranks, but for the most part I found the levels to be constant exercises in trial-and-error-fueled humiliation, some of which, if I was lucky, ended with a B-rank.
Needless to say, I loved it. Those GLaDOS-style insults? Much like in Portal, they're hilarious. In fact, you can take the comparison to Portal a step or two further, since you can see Valve's beloved puzzler written throughout Stealth Inc.'s DNA. Admittedly, that makes the game feel ever-so-slightly less original, but in all the hours I put into the game, I can't say that there was any point in time at which I thought to myself, "Man, this game lacks originality."
Instead, I was thinking, "This game is so awesome." That, or silently cursing Curve Studios for making a game that's equal parts insanely addictive and fiendishly difficult. That's a dangerous combination if you ever want to put a game down — though why you'd ever want to put Stealth Inc. down, I don't know.