Thursday, December 14, 2017

Review: Never Stop Sneakin' [ Nintendo Switch eShop ]


Stealth games and I don’t have a very good history. Ironically in many games, when given the option, I’ll play with a bow in a very stalker-y way but typically games that are meant to emphasize stealth and hiding in the shadows bore me to tears. Almost as if the gaming gods have heard my cries of anguish we now have Never Stop Sneakin’, a game that is almost entirely based around stealth, but that rewards you for daring action, not fiddling with guard routes and hiding bodies.


From the start the fact that this is a send-up of the over-the-top and ridiculous aspects of Metal Gear Solid (and its ilk) becomes clear. The opening sequence is utterly preposterous in a great bad action movie kind of way and throughout the game there’s an ample helping of often-bizarre humor coming from interactions with your commanding officer, Major Milestone, and the game’s unusual villain, Amadeus Guildenstern. Once a conversation between the two began to involve the types of countertops they’d have in their base there was no hope of turning back, and I couldn’t have been happier.

In terms of the gameplay it would be best described as stealth action. You’ll be working with a top-down perspective and trying to move through the levels without being detected by guards, security cameras, and mechanized guns. You’ll have some limited equipment that will help you deal with being sighted, and in order to maximize your score you may at times want to use it (though then you may not have it later when you need it) to keep a combo chain going. With the way the scheme works you’re often wise to focus less on merely getting by the guards and to instead look for opportunities to chain taking out multiple guards in a short span. It takes pretty well everything I typically despise about stealth games and inverts things a bit, making for an engaging mix of strategy and action. Throw in some engaging (though generally repetitive after you hit a few) boss battles that mix up your formula a little bit and it’s a good time!


As noted with the boss battles definitely be aware that aside from the silly progress in the story and a very slow evolution in what you’ll face at a broad level there’s a fair degree of repetition. Since the gameplay is all pretty quick it doesn’t particularly drag, and the layouts of bases, what power-ups you get, and some nuance will always have differences but the core experience is mostly similar throughout. The highly polygonal look is a love letter to Metal Gear Solid on the original PlayStation but not everyone may dig that, it’s just something to keep in mind as well. While you’ll unlock new characters and find some new equipment once in awhile that you can choose between it’s all just aesthetics and doesn’t have an impact on play.

Overall if you’d told me that I’d thoroughly enjoy a stealth game I would have thought you were crazy until I played Never Stop Sneakin’. Its arcade-like sensibilities, consistent push for you to keep moving, and completely silly story sequences have made me a believer though. If you’re coming in hoping for something big and broad you won’t find it here, it is a tight and action-oriented stealth title with a simple but effective hook... and also well worth giving a look.


Score: 8.5

Pros:
  • The combo meter does an excellent job of keeping you moving and looking for chaining opportunities
  • Your limited supplies can create decision points between keeping a scoring run alive versus saving it for when you may get into a tough spot later in the mission
  • The dialogue between missions is consistently silly and entertaining

Cons:
  • While you can very much fail at missions overall aside from trying to get better scores they don’t tend to be terribly challenging
  • While there are a few varieties of boss battles in general they begin to get repetitive
  • A decidedly old-school look that may turn some people away

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