Spy Chameleon | Game Review

A clever arcade-puzzler that is all about stealth

Game Title: Spy Chameleon

Publisher: Unfinished Pixel

Reviewed On: Xbox One

Available on: Xbox One,Nintendo Wii U

Fri, May 29, 2015, 15:15

   

When Xbox One launched, it came promising a new push towards indie games. Spy Chameleon is one such game: smart, easy to pick up but harder to walk away from. The game sees you take on the role of the titular spy as he attempts to complete his missions without being caught.

The RGB agent has plenty to avoid. There are patrolling robots, big-eyed fish and even mice on the lookout for the lizard. But this spy has one advantage over the regular kind: the ability to change colour. So when things get a little tough, he can do what chameleons do best: hide in plain sight.

The game is a top-down arcade puzzler that challenges you to think fast to plan your route through the room, picking up flies as you make your way – stealthily – to the exit. There are a variety of missions to complete. It could be, for example, getting a photo of a celebrity and her lover, picking up a stolen painting or hacking a computer, but in reality you just need to get from A to B without being caught.

There are additional objectives too, giving the game some replay value. The three on offer are collecting all the flies on the level, beating a predetermined time, or picking up all the ladybugs. The first is the only one that you really need to complete; without reaching that objective on a certain number of levels, you can’t unlock the next set.

Being able to turn red, green, yellow or blue can come in mighty handy if you need to blend into a rug, for example, as a robot whizzes past. If they bump into you though, no amount of disguises will save you. Pushing the X, Y, A and B buttons to choose the appropriate colour can also disguise you from CCTV cameras that watch over certain rooms. Aside from rugs, you can also kick over a couple of paint buckets to use as cover, or even a cardboard box.

The game is as much about planning your strategy as it is about avoiding your enemies. What looks like the quickest way often ends up leading to disaster, with a stray CCTV camera picking up your movements and bumping right back to the start of the level. That’s fine with the shorter levels, and the longer levels have checkpoints that save you from having to go back to the very start. If you’re aiming for a record time though, the checkpoints can put paid to that; be detected and although you get to start at your last save point, the clock keeps running.

Where Spy Chameleon really succeeds is in its ability to keep you playing “just one more”. Because they’re so short, you’re inclined to keep pushing on to the next one, and before you know it, you’ve lost an hour or more. There are 75 levels to make your way through, spread over five missions.

All in all, the game can be played through in under three hours, but if you want to play on the harder levels and ramp up the achievements, you can easily go back for more.