Also On: PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Wii U, PC
Publisher: Moving Player
For the most part, stealth games and I don't get along. They aim to reward patience, whereas I usually play with a "run into every room with guns blazing" approach. Needless to say, I've never been able to get into, say, the Metal Gear Solid series.
However, I have no problem whatsoever getting into Level 22 — despite the fact it's all about stealth.
Why the different attitude? I suspect some of it stems from the game's setting. There are no life-or-death, earth-shattering consequences here. Rather than having the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Level 22 deals with the much more mundane — but also much more relatable — task of trying to sneak into work late. Maybe it's just a failure of imagination on my part, but I find it a lot easier to get into a game where you're stealthy avoiding your boss than I'm able to get into a story about stealthily avoiding Big Boss.
On a related note, I appreciate Level 22's sense of humor. It knows how to be referential without falling into the trap of believing references=jokes. Similarly, it walks that fine line of breaking the fourth wall without constantly reminding you that it's breaking the fourth wall — a much more difficult feat than you'd think, judging from countless bad cartoons, comics and games over the years. In general, I just appreciate that, rather than hitting you over the head with how clever it believes itself to be, Level 22 has faith that it can tell you a joke once and have that be enough for you to get it.
I'd like to say that Level 22's gameplay is as new and refreshing as its approach and its outlook, but…well, it's not. But that's not to say that it's bad, either! Rather, Level 22 plays just like you'd expect a stealth-adventure hybrid to play. It requires you to be patient (which is harder for some of us than for others), it rewards ingenuity, and it's not afraid to force you to think things through. That's not usually my cup of tea, but when you shrink it down to bite-sized levels like this, it even draws in someone like me.
I don't want to suggest that Level 22 is a better game than its bigger budget stealth brethren. Some of its solutions require leaps of logic that are a little abstract, to say the least. Worse, it has the odd bug that allows you to wander off the screen and into nothingness. You can always wander back, but that's still pretty annoying.
Not so annoying that it ruins the game, though. Level 22 has an abundance of delightful charm, and that's more than enough to make up for the odd flaw here and there.