by Ingvi Snædal
reviewed on PC
I <3 Stealth
I love stealth games. The excitement of hiding in a dark corner as a guard passes by, knowing that one false move will result in your untimely yet well-deserved death. Monitoring their movements as you prepare to pounce on them like a panther and separate their consciousness from the mortal realm. I love stealth games. By my definition of one, however, Sneaky Sneaky is not strictly speaking a stealth game. It’s more of an arcade puzzler that I wouldn’t have been surprised to find for free on the Google Play Store, which is meant to complement the rising quality of mobile games rather than put Sneaky Sneaky down in any way. It’s a charming and challenging game that deserves your attention.
As the game launched in windowed mode with more than half the image extending outside of the border of my laptop monitor, I went straight for the options menu to fix it. I was surprised to see that the resolution menu only listed three options, none of which was the native resolution of my monitor. Even though I got the game looking pretty good with an HD setting (1270x720), this will be listed as a minus for the game as it is a sign of a lack of polish. The rest of the product, however, is almost beyond reproach.
The story of Sneaky Sneaky revolves around the protagonist, Sneaky, who is a thief. He and his friend and companion, Squeaky the Rat, are running away from the Sultan’s palace with a bag full of rubies when they are set upon by a pack of wolves. While Sneaky is distracted trying to find a way out of his conundrum, a big black raven swoops down and snatches the bag of rubies from the ruby snatchers. As he flies off towards the palace, individual stones are seen dropping from the bag along his path. It is up to you to recover the rubies before the Sultan of the Serpent Sands (who already knows it was you for some reason) catches you. The story is told through comic book style animated cutscenes, similar to those found in Angry Birds, and does a decent job of conveying Sneaky’s motivation and setting the mood of the game.
The cartoony aesthetic style of the game is absolutely adorable and, despite the actions you take in the game (hiding in bushes and backstabbing patrolling monsters, shooting blobs with arrows, etc.) the game is suitable for players of all ages. You start the game off with no weapons as the game teaches you how to sneak past guards, where to hide, and how to read the enemy’s line of sight, which is prominently displayed on the ground around them. Step into the red zone, and you will initiate an encounter. Pretty soon, however, you will find your trusty dagger and be able to dispose of these baddies relatively easily. The game plays out in real time, but the encounters are turn based, with each side having three actions to perform. Who goes first depends on the manner in which the encounter started. If you are spotted by an enemy, he goes first. If you shot him with an arrow from afar, however, you have the initiative. When you find the bow later on in the game, you will also find an axe which will allow you to cut down trees. This is not only useful for clearing paths but also replenishes your arrows, of which you can only carry three to begin with.
No place to hide
Most environments have elements you can hide in (haystacks, bushes, etc.) and these are very useful for disposing of enemies. Careful though, because not only hostile animals smell you in the bushes, but you automatically step out of the bush to attack so if your target is covered by another hostile, it’s checkmate for you. (Actually, it only starts an encounter with the initiative on their side, but I couldn’t resist the chess pun.) Some enemies move along specific patrol routs which can be easily discerned by a worn pattern in the ground below them. Others move sporadically, so care must be given to their possible movement direction before you jump out of cover to lunge at their throats or other vulnerable body parts. Breakable barrels in the environment can yield gold coins or arrows if you’re running low, but sacred urns which send undead enemies into a craze and exploding pots are among the elements introduced in later levels.
The coins you pick up can be used in the Squeaky store which is accessible from the world map. Here, you can replenish any consumable items you find in the world, such as health potions, action potions (which replenish your action points during encounters), bait, and others. An interesting titbit about bait: If you manage to kill the enemy before he takes a bite, you will get the bait back and be able to use it again. Used bate wouldn’t attract anyone anyway. In addition to items, you will be able to upgrade your backpack and quiver to be able to carry more consumables and arrows respectively. At the conclusion of each round, you will be given a score and a rating with the classic one (bronze), two (silver), and three star (gold) ranking. Your score, which is determined by the amount of rubies collected, enemies killed, enemies sneak-killed, and your over-all sneakiness, also allows you to level up, which in turn grants you upgrades to either your sword, bow, health, or movement range.
The game is a cute little time killer which starts off as an innocent little game for kids but gets more complex pretty fast, demanding a level of tactical thinking I have yet to experience in a simplistic mobile game such as this. As more diverse elements are introduced, you will have to take not only them into consideration, but the interplay between them as well. I highly recommend this game for the whole family, especially if you have a budding tactician among you.
Adorable aesthetics; addictive gameplay.
Play with mouse, not thumbpad; few technical options.