A new video game hero crept out of the shadows last week to join the likes of Sam Fisher, Garrett the thief, Sly Cooper, and Solid Snake. His name is Stealth Bastard, and by now, I'm pretty sure his name has nothing to do with being born out of wedlock. Curve Studios (Explosionade) released the new hero's first adventure--subtitled: Tactical Espionage Arsehole--for free last week, and I'm happy to report that it is worth well more than the rock-bottom price of zero dollars the developer is asking.
Cameras, laser grids, and deadly robots are just some of the few machinations that Stealth Bastard needs to avoid on his quest to hack a series of computer terminals in a well-guarded facility. Shadows offer friendly pockets of refuge, but death comes quickly when missteps are made. Curve's assertion that the game is like "Metal Gear Solid and Super Meat Boy had a baby out of wedlock," is accurate enough.
While not as difficult as the much larger Super Meat Boy, the inclusion of timer in each of the game's 28 levels--as well as online leaderboards--adds a competitive element for best-time chasers. (Some of the times some folks have clocked already are ridiculously short.) When approaching a level for the first time, my natural inclination was to proceed methodically until I figured out how to master its traps and tricks. But be warned: even with a more cautious approach, some of the more devious puzzles will have no trouble turning you into a pile of dismembered giblets.
The game's twenty-eight levels offer up a satisfying experience on their own, but Curve Studios has also decided to include a level editor, and the ability for folks to create and share their own hazardous creations with others. I haven't messed around with it too much yet, but it seems fairly easy to use. I'm pretty curious to see what sort of hellish stealth mazes the (steadily growing) community constructs.
Stealth Bastard: Tactical Espionage Arsehole seems to get it's title due to the controller-throwing difficulty that emerges when trying to race through a stage as quickly as possible. Though perhaps I'd feel differently if he were invading my top-secret research facility.
As we reported earlier in the week, Stealth Bastard continues to be (deservedly) downloaded at a steady clip, and the fan-response has prompted the developer to add a "Donate" link to the official site. Producer Ed Fear has also recently said that Curve is considering parlaying the concept into a "full game" in the future, depending on how the free version is received over time.
You can download Stealth Bastard for PC for free from the developer's website. You may need to launch the application "as Administrator" if you're using Windows 7 (if the game isn't cooperating with your firewall), but it's pretty easy to get set up.
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