Freebie Friday – B*tard
Here at Citizen Game, we’re mighty fond of a bargain. But how do you know if a cheap or even free game is worth your valuable time? After all, you could be out walrus wrestling, or reading poetry to molluscs, or whatever it is important people do these days now that we no longer have an economy.
Luckily, our time is worth almost nothing at all, so we’ve plumbed the depths of the Intertubes to bring you our latest feature — Freebie Friday! This week’s effort: Stealth Bastard.
Imagine Frogger crossed with Splinter Cell. Let that ugly, misshapen form stew for a minute in your mental juices. Now, forget that thought entirely, since it has very little connection with Stealth Bastard, which is a very smart little puzzle-platformer from Curve Studios, the indie developer responsible for the joy that is the retro-styled Explodemon.
Essentially, Sudden Banana is a game about avoidance — avoid the cameras, avoid the robot guards, avoid the light if you want to make it though to that exit door. Your infra-red-begoggled infiltrator can jump, hang on to ledges and hack terminals to open doors blocking your way. There are no combat mechanics, mostly because being spotted by the eagle-eyed enemies leads rapidly and inevitably to your messy demise.
With a few screens of scenery, traps and frustrating switch sequences, Curve have built their symphonies of frustration.Each tiny level is an intricate creation that demands careful spacial reasoning and a cool head to solve, even while the remorseless timer is pushing you to do everything faster, to skip through on the edge of your luck and skill.
Drawing on the recent fondness for ultra-hardcore retro indies shown by the success of titles like Super Meat Boy and VVVVVV, Slippery Boathook mixes up the traditional compelling platforming with some stealth-gaming tropes. Married with an industrial aesthetic vision and wonderful grinding soundtrack, this is a nice counterpoint to the cartoonish visuals of many small-scale projects.
The difficulty level rises very quickly, but each death teaches you a little more about the mechanics that comes in handy the next time. And there will be a next time, as the failure seems less like a punishment than an admonishment to do better. The comprehensive level editor included in the package is a wicked added extra, potentially expanding the game’s longevity out to infinity, given a sufficiently active community.
I can’t get enough of this well-polished little gem, despite the global leaderboards confirming my utter lack of skill at dexterity challenges. Join me, and let’s get RSI together.