Stealth Inc. finally brings its speedy brand of subterfuge to iOS

Oh man do I love stealth games. There’s something a little magical about lurking in the shadows, picking locks or hacking nondescript terminals and spending inordinate amounts of time crawling through tight spaces. That thoughtful pace, the careful observation of your surroundings, getting the jump on the opposition: great fun if you’re the sort of person who enjoys biding their time. For others it’s likely an interactive-ish analog of watching paint dry.

In the dark future of Stealth Inc., rooms are weird if they DON'T include at least three deathpits.

Stealth Inc. aims for a healthy middle ground. Equal parts puzzler and platformer, you play a clone bedecked in appropriately stealthy goggles tasked with outwitting homicidal test chambers. Your only tools are the shadows—robots can’t incinerate what they can’t see. Which means plenty of glorious skulking, dashing past sluggish security cameras, and pushing curiously convenient rolling pillars about to block a sentinel’s field of view.

I’m always impressed by what clever designers can do with such a simple conceit. The game eases you in, introducing mechanics and possible solutions in digestible snippets and then ramping up the challenge within a moment’s notice. And yet nothing ever overwhelms; the checkpoint system is generous, and while you’ll fail over and over again you’re never more than a few seconds away from your mistake, ready to face the latest obstacle and try something new.

We'll both be amazed, my rock-solid friend.

But the greatest obstacle will be the little timer running along the top of the screen. Or more importantly, the leaderboards that are displayed at the start and end of every level, showing you just how much better or worse the rest of the world did on that last test chamber. It’s that stark, nagging reminder that encourages would-be skulkers to pick up the pace, and encourages revisiting a level over and over again in futile attempts to shave that extra half-second you need to beat that mysterious internet stranger. Sigh.

Stealth Inc. has been  bumbling around various platforms (including the PC, PS3, and Android) for quite some time now, and is now available on the Apple App store for $4.99.

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