Spy Chameleon is developed and published by the Indie company Unfinished Pixel and features fast paced arcade puzzles with stealth gameplay from a top-down perspective.
You play as a quirky little chameleon and are introduced to the mechanics of the game with a brief tutorial section. This basic idea is to avoid enemies whilst collecting bugs. Being a Chameleon you can change into four different colours. This mechanic becomes a key feature to the gameplay as you progress.
The game sees you making your way through 75 different stages that play out over 5 missions. The stages don’t really develop too much but I think the structure of the missions and levels worked well. Each stage you play through has three goals to complete. These include collecting the flies, finding the hidden ladybirds and beat the set time. I’m glad there are challenges to each stage as they do offer some replayability and incentive to go back.
The first stages are relatively easy but you soon find that things become trickier when there are multiple obstacles to contend with. Firstly, there are the robots that patrol each stage. There are also mice and even weird-looking fish that can catch you out. The game plays out from a top-down perspective which allows you to get a clear view of each scenario. The idea is to successfully guide yourself through the stage without being detected, which is actually pretty addictive.
As you progress through the game more mechanics are introduced to mix things up. The enemies do become harder to avoid, but the skills you gain help you to overcome difficult situations. The mechanics added are nothing too special, like flipping switches and freezing enemies, but it does at least keep things different throughout. The missions do become more difficult and longer each time and there is a great sense of satisfaction once you successfully navigate your way through each area.
The most influential and important mechanic in the game is the ability to change colour. Your base colour is green but you can also turn yellow, red and blue. As you make your way through stages you will notice coloured floors, wall panels and moving objects that you can blend into with the push of a button. This for me was the most enjoyable and unique element of the gameplay. I really enjoyed the simplistic approach to gameplay and increasingly difficult stealth puzzles. The controls are also very responsive and work well, which is very important when it comes to a game like this, which needs precision and careful movement.
You will find that each stage takes planning and practice in order to be successful. It’s almost best to take your time, as more often than not the easiest looking pathway is often a dead-end. The longer stages do have checkpoints so you don’t get sent back to the very beginning if you’re caught in action. The game does a great job of making you want to try again and ultimately ends up feeling extremely satisfying. The game doesn’t take very long to complete, but that’s fine because the 75 stages do offer enough to keep things entertaining.
The presentation of the game is decent with colourful visuals and vibrant environments. I really liked the design of the chameleon but the enemies could have been more varied and could have had more personality. The game could have had a story but it’s just not that kind of game. It’s quick arcade style gameplay works well and the design suits it perfectly. The sound design works well, with an upbeat soundtrack that helps add tension and excitement to the gameplay. The only real issue I had with the game was the fact that the difficulty tends to fluctuate from start to finish. Some stages are ridiculously difficult and often feel unfair whilst others are an absolute walk in the park.
Overall I was surprised at how much I had with Spy Chameleon as I’m not a massive fan of puzzle games. The puzzles here are well done and keep you on your toes, with a steady flow of new gameplay mechanics throughout. The game does also have a decent amount of replayability with the 75 stages, different difficulty settings and challenges per level.
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