When starting Spy Chameleon, a stealth game on PS Vita, for the first time I didn’t know what to expect. Visually it looked interesting, but after just finishing a review for a similar game that I didn’t enjoy, I was worried I wouldn’t enjoy Spy Chameleon. For a change, I am happy to be wrong.
Spy Chameleon is a top down stealth game with a simple primary objective, reach the end of the room. Of course it is not that easy, the player needs to avoid various enemies and use the mechanics available to you to do so. The primary mechanic is simple to use but hard to master. Using the face buttons, the player can change color to blend into the environment and avoid the cones of vision. The colors the chameleon can change to are linked to the classic colors of the face buttons on a PlayStation controller. For those of you that don’t know, triangle is green, circle is red, cross is a light blue color and square best resembles pink. Very easy to remember for an avid PlayStation user, you will find yourself not needing to check which button changes you to which color, you will instinctively know. You will blend your way through a level, completing various secondary objectives. On your first attempt of a level you can collect all the small flies, which also needs to be done to unlock later levels, and complete the level within a specific time. Once you have completed a level for the first time, you can go back and attempt the last secondary objective, which is to collect all the ladybugs. The time and ladybug secondary objectives don’t contribute to anything except unlocking trophies, so if you are not interested in trophies you can play the whole game without needing to do those two secondary objectives.
The game features no talking, instead the game has a unique and varied soundtrack. There is a simple story to the game, 5 missions with 15 levels in each mission, the player needs to complete an objective. These are pretty simple, recover a stolen painting, take care of a dangerous threat etc. The description of the mission tries to make them sound more interesting but they are nothing special. The story of the game plays a very minor role, so it’s not a big deal, but don’t expect a real story for what you are doing. However what the game does well is linking the minimal story and the level design. If you take the time to read the mission synopsis, you will notice how well the level design matches the theme. You really feel you are moving through a laboratory in that particular section, and on occasion the mechanics introduced also matches the synopsis. For example, the disruptor that stops the patrolling enemies (mice) but makes them bigger and therefore their cone of vision bigger is introduced during the laboratory mission, where experiments are happening. It makes perfect sense that the enemies in the laboratory are mice, and that there is experimental technology that does something to them. You won’t find the disruptor in the hotel rooms for example. It’s nice to see a game really think where the mechanics best fit, instead of just placing them anywhere that doesn’t really make sense. The level design in general is great, it’s challenging but forgiving. The game features multiple checkpoints in many of the levels to make it easier. You genuinely have to stop and think how you will complete the level, running straight through and hoping for the best will not work out for you. It really is great level design, you will find yourself needing to move quickly, such as knocking the enemy fish so their cone of vision rotates and quickly running into a colored cover in order to avoid the rotating camera and patrolling enemies. The art itself is very colorful and vibrant, as it should be for a game that requires you to use colors to hide. While the art is not particularly detailed, it’s very pleasant to look at and it’s a nice change to see a stealth game be so bright.
There is a very good range of mechanics in Spy Chameleon, others I have yet to mention include keys for doors, buttons, color changing panels and many more. Nothing here is ground breaking, but it’s used in a very clever way and fits the theme well. Nothing here feels out of place, even though it’s slightly silly, you are a chameleon eating flies and avoiding robots and fish, you never once feel what the game is introducing something that doesn’t make sense. The game flows very naturally, and the difficulty ramps up nicely. For example, when introduced to a new mechanic in a level, that level is very simple and easy to complete. The level after that is slightly harder and the one after that even harder and so on till a new mechanic is introduced. The only issue I had with the way the mechanics are introduced is right at the end. A mechanic is introduced on the last mission, and you only have those 15 levels to play around with it. It’s a shame to see it introduced right at the end and then have such limited time to use it. I would rather the last set of 15 levels introduced nothing new, instead choosing to focus on mixing and using everything you have learnt so far.
If you are good at the game and you are not particularly interested in the secondary objectives, you will complete the game rather quickly. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, quality over quantity, but when you are enjoying it as much as I was, you will find yourself hoping for more. However this argument could be made for any game. The game is certainly worth its relatively cheap price and has a nice replay value with both the secondary objectives but also replaying the campaign on hard mode and collecting the trophies related to doing so. The trophies themselves are nothing special, a few unique trophies for doing something that’s not obvious, but it’s mainly the usual set of trophies you see in these kinds of games, complete all levels on normal and hard, complete all secondary objectives on normal and hard etc. Unless you are bad at the game, it shouldn’t be too hard to platinum the game if you are interested in doing so. Smaller games like these tend not to have a platinum trophy, and us PlayStation gamers often really care about trophies and platinum’s, so it’s nice to see this game have one. It sounds silly, but the simple concept of a platinum trophy adds a great deal of replay value to a game.
Spy Chameleon is a charming, fun and enjoyable little game. It’s unassuming, on paper it should be just fine, but instead you find yourself playing a smart and challenging game. I would certainly recommend this game to Vita players. It may not take you long to complete, but you will certainly enjoy the ride. The game is cross-buy as well, so if you do not own a PlayStation Vita, you can get it on PS4 instead and have the Vita version free of charge in case you ever do get a Vita or the other way around. So if anything I have said sounds appealing to you, do yourself a favor and pick the game up. I have a feeling you won’t regret it.
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