Saturday, March 10

Review: Spy Chameleon [Nintendo Switch eShop]

One of the best things about indie titles is their ability to come out of nowhere, completely unheralded, and then surprise you with something worthy of some attention. This is very much the case with Spy Chameleon, a game I don’t think I’d even heard of until it was practically already available on the eShop. Delivering a polished, creative, and surprisingly diverse set of action puzzle challenges over 75 levels spanning 5 missions it is a far better game than its budget-friendly price would imply.

It seems that you’re a lizard with a certain set of skills, in this case involving infiltrating areas that are supposed to be secure and coming away with the loot. In each mission new traps, elements, and enemies are quickly introduced to you, setting the stage for the challenges ahead. Early on you’ll mostly need to learn to be nimble and carefully watch your enemy’s patrol patterns but soon your color-changing abilities will need to be put to use and that’s where things really step up in difficulty.

As long as you’re standing on a surface, whether carpet, paint, or color-changing floor tiles, you’re able to avoid detection as long as you match its color. The floor tiles later in the game step up the difficulty as you’ll need to use transitioning tiles to cover your color switch and keep careful track of edges and corners that aren’t being scanned to figure out your path. To help there are flies in the level that will roughly point out an optimum path but you’ll need to do some problem-solving in-between. In order to unlock additional levels you’ll need to collect all flies on multiple stages, which is pretty simple for the most part, if you want to beat the target time or collect all ladybugs you’ll likely need to do so on an additional pass.

The steady progression generally keeps the game from feeling too hard or unfair, and without giving you a lot of direct feedback you’re actually taught most concepts pretty effectively through smart level design. While there’s an obvious incentive for grabbing all of the flies aside from challenging yourself or beating the leaderboards for time there’s not much to compel you to repeat to do better. While the ladybugs early on are pretty easy to get in later levels if you feel things are too easy they’ll really make you work to get them all.

All said I’m a big fan of Spy Chameleon and its fresh take on stealth action puzzling. Never settling in for too long each mission feels just about the right length before the game throws some new things at you to get the hang of. Later in the game the puzzle element really begins to kick in as you’ll need to work carefully and methodically to avoid detection in a variety of ways. If you love creative action Spy Chameleon could just sneak its way into your list of favorites.

Score: 8.5

  • A creative take on stealth action puzzle gaming
  • Smooth overall progression in difficulty
  • Level design does an excellent job of building your skills before challenging you in later stages

  • While going back for a great time or grabbing all ladybugs is nice for completionists there’s not much incentive to do so

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