Stealth games are an interesting genre, as they can be very complex or remarkably simple. What makes a great stealth game is level design in some cases and how the games core mechanics work with said level design.
Unfinished Pixel’s Spy Chameleon explores stealth mechanics in the action/puzzle genre of gaming. Does the games color mechanics make great levels to sneak through?
Spy Chameleon’s core gameplay has a very simple core; you can switch between four different colors mapped to the face buttons on the controller and interact with objects in the levels (pressing switches and bumping into computers to activate devices). Using these very simple mechanics, you explore over 75 levels where you sneak through to the goal, with time attacks and collecting (flies & ladybugs) being the focus.
Level designs present are what carries the core gameplay, as the construction of levels make great usage of the color swapping mechanic and there were a number of times where I was stumped on a puzzle and felt ‘ah!’ when finding the solution. Examples of the color switching in action include carpets that have red/pink/green/blue and later in the game, panels that change color over time. These push you to master your color switching abilities and the game introduces its mechanics slowly over time.
My favorite levels in the game are the ones that blend the interactive and color switching abilities frequently, as they push you to have fast reflexes. In addition to the color and interactive elements, you have various foes and objects you need to avoid. Some strong examples of this include mice that have flashing lights and if they spot your location, you have to restart the stage. Another example is a camera that you have to bump into enough times to make them turn in the direction you want them to turn, avoiding there spotlight.
One last mechanic I want to touch on is the keys, as some levels have you collecting keys which can unlock doors. This can be used very well, with one level in particular pushing you to explore every nook and cranny to find all the keys to find short cuts to avoid foes. Overall, the gameplay here is strong mainly from the great level design elements on display.
The game has over 75 levels to run through and you can play the game on different difficulties, making the levels even harder if you desire. But when you complete levels, they spawn a new collectible; ladybugs. During a normal run, you are encourage to collect all the flies to unlock the next wave of levels. When you go back to a level, ladybugs are visible now, so you have a reason to replay the levels; to get every ladybug in the game.
Another motivator to go back to older levels is time attacks, as you can get trophies/achievements if you get great times in addition to being on the leader-boards.
The main game lasts up to 2-3 hours if you run through each level but going back to get everything in addition to the time trail for each level, you can get a lot of playtime from the game.
Spy Chameleon has a style to it, as the characters animate very well and the locations are filled with color and personality. For example, the games opening screen when the developers name pops up is a small animation where our main character is avoiding detection and the final bit at the end of the developer logo falls about and he spotted. I love little details like that and it was great to see here.
In addition, the game runs very well on the PS Vita, with a very stable frame rate and running at native resolution. The game is also out on PS4, Xbox One, Steam (PC) and Nintendo Wii U, so I would imagine those versions run well and have higher resolutions.
Gameplay – 4 out of 5 / Replay Value – 4 out of 5 / Presentation – 4 out of 5
Spy Chameleon is a great looking title that offers fun stealth puzzles to solve. The color switching mechanic is very well implemented and the other mechanics on display are very fun to interact with. The game also has a good amount of extra content to sneak your way through when you complete the main game. This game is overall a very fun stealth/puzzle title that offers a sneaking good time.
Overall: 4 out of 5
The game was reviewed on the PS Vita with a review code provided by Unfinished Pixel. The game is also out now on the PlayStation 4 (with cross-buy support with the PS Vita version), Xbox One, PC (Steam) and the Nintendo Wii U.