Level 22 Review
I’ve always had a keen eye on indie stealth games, particularly due to how they execute new innovations, and perfect old ones. This can be seen more specifically in Klei Entertainment’s, Invisible Inc (formerly known as Incognita) and Mark of the Ninja, as well as others like Gunpoint, Volume, and Stealth Bastard Tactical Espionage Arsehole Deluxe. (Yes that’s actually a real game) While some of these games extradite AAA elements to great effect, they all have a distinct personality and feel wholly original. Level 22, a new more realistic stealth indie stealth game about going to work late and not getting caught. It’s a novel idea, and one that could be comically beguiling as well as fun. Yet, Level 22 sacrifices other concepts to work on this foremost component, resulting in middling results all across the board.
In Level 22, you play as Gary, a middle-aged man who is implied that he’s lazy and bad at his job. As expected, your objective is to get back to your office without getting caught. It’s this type of irony that lets Level 22 fit into it’s own skin, but it doesn’t feel like something that was present in the rather mediocre gameplay. Enemy distractions have a slight laugh factor to them (but nothing major) and simple tasks such as waiting for fellow coworkers feel boring. There isn’t much to do in Level 22 besides this, and it’s a disappointment that so much of the game feels half-baked and without flavor.
Since Level 22 is a stealth game, another important portion that adds to its gameplay is the enemy design and patterns. Although I couldn’t really see Level 22 carrying out the first one due to the game’s setting and theme, it was a bit forlorn that the second aspect had the same outcome. Unfortunately, it’s not very easy to see enemies viewpoints (something that should be essential!) which gives players the irresponsible freedom of taking risk upon risk. While some of these pan out, others don’t as the game gets sufficiently harder and more complex, leading to a sense of frustration.
Presentation/Graphics & Audio:
If there’s anything Level 22 succeeds at fully, it’s the presentation, sound, and visuals. Although not all of them are exquisite, they come together cohesively, and add traits of charm and humor I was not expecting. This is further heightened by the nostalgic collectibles and simplistic yet catchy art-design. Sound is one of the lower points here, (there’s not a classic sound effect upon capture like in Metal Gear Solid) but it’s OK to see the game stick to it’s own roots instead.
Level 22 is not a bad game, and is something I would suggest to stealth fans upon sale. However, it’s a bit too bland in it’s gameplay conventions to be something greater. The game lacks a satisfying hook or feel common of other games in it’s genre, demoting Level 22 to a sense of lower class, a lower level.
Level 22 gets an 5 /10. (Flawed)
We’d like to thank Moving Player for sending us a code for this one!
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