Humble Bundle with Android 6 ReviewGuest_Jim_* - June 21, 2013
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Stealth Bastard Deluxe Review:
Stealth Bastard is, unsurprisingly, a stealth-based game that has you leaping to platforms to avoid cameras, lasers, robots, and possibly more (remember, I am not playing these games to completion). Helping you know when your clone body is exposed or not are a pair of goggles that cycle between green, yellow, and red coloring, depending on the amount of light you are in. When you are caught, there are numerous ways you can be killed, including being crushed, sliced, and exploded by lasers. No matter what though, you explode into a gruesome pile of red goo.
The gameplay is what you would expect for a game of this genre. The level design is, in some places, clever, but in other places is less so, though that may be more the result of something else I will get to in the graphics section. I did find at least one moment when the level design appears to neglect the lack of responsiveness due to the controls and certain elements. To climb up you have to use buttons on the floor to move a platform in front of lasers. This, unto itself is not an unusual challenge for a game like this, but actually getting the timing right was difficult because of the width of the button, the thinness of the platform the button is on, and the binary nature of movement. Basically if you are standing on the button and the platform moves to block the laser, by the time you run off the button, the platform may have passed the laser. Because of how short the platform with the button is though, you also cannot just run away from the button, or else you risk falling onto another fatal laser. Simply placing the button on the wall, increasing standing room, would have alleviated this and made the challenge more about the puzzle than perfect placement.
That last issue is one many people can easily dismiss as a matter of taste. These next issues however are harder to discount. I am playing each of these games on both my PC and on my Android phone. I first opened up Stealth Bastard on my PC and, as I normally do, I went straight to the options to look at the graphics settings. The selection of options is somewhat lacking, which seems almost typical of many multiplatform games like this, but two options that are present are not typical. These options are for Video Mode and Video Scale. Video Mode consists of Fullscreen or Windowed and Video Scale is completely dependent on the Mode, so why it is even listed, I do not know. In Fullscreen, the Video Scale is set to Stretched, and cannot be changed. Switching to Windowed changes the scale to 1x, and if you change the scale it just goes to Fullscreen and Stretched. Left at that, it makes these two options odd to include in place of a single toggle. However, because of what they actually do switch between, it makes these options a great annoyance to me. When set to Stretched on my 2048x1152 resolution monitor, the amount of blurring clearly indicates it is being stretched. When set to 1x the window shrinks to 640x360, less than a tenth the size of my screen, making it hard to see some details, such as the edges of black platforms immersed in a shadow (such was the case in the previous paragraph).
With such a low resolution, I decided to switch to playing on my phone, because on its smaller screen, 640x360 will not look as bad. Of course then I found a different graphics issue. Even though my phone's screen is capable of 60 Hz, like a standard computer monitor, and does not have a weak GPU, the game was only running at 20 Hz. As with many PC games, such a low framerate made the action slow and mildly jumpy, and you cannot help but see this. The reason I know it was running at 20 Hz is because the timer, since you are timed as you run a level, was advancing in increments of 0.05 seconds; a twentieth of a second.
Another issue I had on the phone, which ultimately pushed me back to the PC, was the very odd, and in my opinion poor, controls. Movement controls were broken onto screen halves. On the right side are the jump and crouch buttons, which could be larger for my fingers, while on the left side is an invisible virtual binary-joystick. Just pressing down on the left side of the screen does not initiate any movement. Instead, if the press last longs enough, it triggers two arrows to appear, creating the virtual binary joystick. Only by dragging your finger to the left or right does it trigger movement, in either direction, with the separation between left and right being wherever you first pressed your finger. This design is aggravating as it is unintuitive and causes a lag in any movements. Attempting to control the platform mentioned previously via the floor buttons would be even more difficult with these touchscreen controls. Simply having the option of a static, visible virtual joystick would be very welcome.
Returning to the PC, if you change the key configuration, the game has a rather odd behavior of removing the key you just changed. It completely vanishes, so you cannot even visually confirm you made the change without leaving and returning to that window.
The soundtrack has a definite electronic sound to it, which fits the science fiction nature of the game. It reminds me of some 16-bit games I used to play, which is not unwelcome, but I find it unusual, as the gameplay itself does not remind me of that era.
As much as I would like to describe this game altogether, I am not sure I could then describe it fairly. The game, on its own, I could easily find myself and others enjoying, but the multiple mechanical/technical issues I have found and described make the experience less than fun for me. I do not want to make the choice between a low framerate with bad controls, a small window, or highly stretched graphics. Therefore, I cannot recommend this bundle just for this one game.