REVIEW: Avatar Stealth

Indies are traditionally bite-sized servings, so it makes sense that an indie would take for its main subject the ancillary, often-overlooked side / tutorial modes in bigger games. Specifically adapted in this case, Metal Gear‘s VR training missions. Well, to a point, minus gadgets, weapons, or cardboard boxes. Avatar Stealth (80 MSP) is a sneaking mission.

That my avatar is currently dressed as Corvo from Dishonored is not only a testament to my impeccable taste in game characters, but befitting for a game based on the tenants of stealth. Sadly, none of the gruesome takedowns or special abilities from that game (or any other espionage-laden title, for that matter) are present in Avatar Stealth. As stated, your only option in a pinch is to hide and pray your sorry avatar’s ass off that you’re not caught.

Avatar Stealth - Screen

Much like the venerable Solid Snake, your avatar can crawl into tight spaces and hug walls / objects in the environment, which shields you from sentries’ eyes and allows a view to the goal so that you can plan your route. Visually, it matches its inspiration almost sight cone for sight cone, splashing neon and wireframes over everything, including helpful color-coordinated lighting in the likely event you draw unwanted attention to yourself (yellow = hide / don’t move, red = you’re fucked).

The game will automatically create random levels for you, or you can tinker with the generator yourself in Customization mode, which will give you a more tailored experience. You can freely change the size and layout of rooms, as well as how many guards will patrol and how much they can see. While this (possibly) takes some of the mystery and challenge out of the game, it is a secondary choice for practice runs or for those who prefer not to leave their fates up to an A.I. to decide.

Avatar Stealth - Screen2

Once the game is in motion, the idea works, mostly. The guards’ line of sight is clearly represented, as is the sound your movement makes (pro-tip: running isn’t a good option). The mini-map is invaluable. Ironically, given the source material, the camera is not as cooperative. You’ll be fixing it more than you’d like, usually when you least have the time for it. It’s particularly bothersome when peering around corners, as your avatar can accidentally come ‘unglued’ from whatever surface you’re attached to, stepping right out into the open. And once you’re spotted, it’s a short chase then game over, no retries, even in VR.

Those issues and frustrations knock it from the top-shelf, but the randomly-generated levels and customization options keep the sneaking fresh-ish, most of the time. Avatar Stealth may be an imperfect impersonation, a cheap stand-in, but that’s not such a terrible thing.

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