Stealth Bastard (SB) is a new twist on an old concept. At its heart, it is a 2D action game, with tons of enemies, explosions, weapons, and gore. It combines all of these standards of action with stealth to bring a taste of freshness to the 2D action genre. Stealth Bastard is one of those rare games that is simple enough to learn, but can keep you happily occupied for hours on end. It features 28 great levels, the option to download new levels from the internet community, as well as the ability to create your own levels and allow others to play them.
The first thing that grabbed my attention about SB is that it is not the kind of free game that gives you a certain amount of playability but then asks for subscriptions or other costs to continue to play. Nope, Stealth Bastard is 100% home-grown, totally free freeware. No cost, ever, is the promise made by Curve Studios on the home page. Once I was intrigued by the absolutely free price tag, I jumped right in and downloaded it, and was immediately sucked into the game and lost track of several hours. If that’s not the mark of a well-designed and executed game, I don’t know what is.
Once I had downloaded and installed the game, I was asked to create a username and password for the leaderboard system. I groaned at this, not wanting new spam in my email. However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it doesn’t require an email address or anything else at all. Just a username and a password to record my scores in the leaderboard system. How nice!
I took a moment to explore the various menu options, just to see what they did, and then started the game. I was anticipating something mildly entertaining with pretty standard fare. I was again pleasantly surprised. While the graphics for SB are a bit pixelated and blocky, I found the special effects and animations to be so smooth that the “outdated” graphics didn’t bother me at all. In fact, the longer I played, the more they grew on me and I suspected that the developers had made them look kitschy for charm value, rather than any shortcoming. The game has a kind of “Fog of War” where much of the screen is in darkness until you get close enough to explore it. In the grand tradition of games like Metal Gear, you will have to use those dark shadows to avoid enemies as well as cameras, laser turrets, and other nasty pitfalls. All of these are very nicely rendered in the pixelated style that has become so popular with these types of games lately.
The controls are supremely simple, and completely on the keyboard, so you won’t need a mouse if you don’t want to use one. This makes the learning curve for mastering the controls pretty easy, and the tutorial levels will teach you the basic mechanics of hiding in shadows, avoiding traps, etc. All the things a good Stealth Bastard needs to know how to do. Once you have finished the tutorial, you’ll dive into the ‘campaign’ which has a loose story attached. The story doesn’t matter a whole lot, however, as you’ll find yourself alternating between action and stealth so often that you won’t have attention for much else. This, too, has a very purposed feel to it. The 28 levels that the game comes installed with are a blast (no pun intended) and definitely left me wanting more.
Luckily, there are two options for getting more SB gaming goodness. You can connect to the home site via the game menu and download new levels, either created by the Curve team or other users. You can also use the supremely easy editing system built-in to create your own levels and share them online. There’s a great PDF tutorial for the editor, and if you finish making a level and upload it to the master servers, others will be able to vote on it once they have played it. This is a massive boost to the replayability in any game, especially a 2D platformer of any kind. It will keep me coming back for more, that is certain.
I tested this game on an Acer 5742z Laptop, running Windows 7 and had a pretty consistent framerate and no noticeable slow-downs during intense action. Overall, Stealth Bastard has a very polished look and feel to it, and the soundtrack is excellent as well, if a little repetitious. In many ways, I would compare this game to ones like TAGAP 2 because they are both excellent games of the 2D genre and they both push the envelope to try and bring something new to and old genre and platform. As I have observed before, there is a boom and/or resurgence in the realm of 2D gaming lately, especially among adults and older teens. As interest in these kinds of games continues to grow, so does the quality of the available games. Stealth Bastard is an exceptional game with an exceptionally low price tag (zero) and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants either a long term gaming experience or a casual gaming encounter. It has much to offer both types of people, and I am sure it will have something to offer you.
Here are just a few of the features, listed on the Stealth Bastard web page:
- Hide in the shadows with a real-time shadowing system!
- Evade a wide range of eagle-eyed lethal robotic foes!
- Hack your way to the exit… and to the next challenge!
- Squeeze through doorways mere seconds before you’re sliced into pieces!
- Die in a variety of gruesome, cruel ways!
- Create your own fiendish deathrooms and share them with the world – all in the game!
- Shave seconds off your playtimes and rule the global leaderboards!
Until next time, my friends!
Compatibility: Windows XP SP2 or better, Vista, Win7.
[Thanks go to reader Panzer for tipping us off about this game].
Get Stealth Bastard here.