Stealth has been a long-standing staple in video games since the early '80s, when games like Castle Wolfenstein popularized the genre. Since then, stealth games have evolved into very complicated, system-heavy genre in their current form. It can be quite daunting for new players to jump in, which is why Unfinished Pixel's Spy Chameleon is so appealing. Instead of having a dozen systems that need to be juggled at once, Spy Chameleon focuses on the basics of the genre, which allow the game to be challenging, but also inviting to all gamers.
Due to the simplified nature of the gameplay, only the analogue stick is used to control the titular character. Since the protagonist is an anthropomorphic chameleon, he can swap colours by using the Xbox One controller's face buttons. The colours correspond to the matching buttons – so 'B' will be pressed to swap to red, and so on. The colours will allow the spy to blend into coloured platforms, which will make enemies pass by without suspecting a thing.
Each of the game's 75 levels have a simple goal to complete: get to the finish area. Only one problem: there are a ton of enemies and cameras in the way. This means you'll have to stay out of sight, since being spotted once will result in a game over (although most stages offer checkpoints). These levels often take less than a minute to complete, and are great bite-sized fun.
While it's generally pretty easy to complete a stage, there are three additional challenges to take into account. These challenges include eating all the flies scattered throughout a stage, beating a time trial, and collecting ladybugs. The ladybugs only appear after beating a level once, so you can't accomplish all three of these goals on your first run.
As you progress through the game's five chapters (each containing 15 levels), more mechanics are introduced, but controlling the spy is never more difficult. While there will be more difficult enemies with larger vision cones, you'll have more tools at your disposal to sneak past them. This includes triggering computers (which is as simple as bumping into them – no hacking mini-games here!), pulling switches, and using an item that freezes enemies in place. Spy Chameleon is constantly offering up a new challenge, even in the final few stages.
Each set of missions ends with a longer, more difficult level. While there are no bosses to sneak by, these are definitely the highlights of the game. The thrill of getting through these levels unspotted never gets old. That being said, the game does just kind of end at level 75; there isn't any grand finale, just a pat on the back for beating the game. One gigantic boss fight would have definitely made the ending more satisfying.
Graphically, Spy Chameleon features a bright, colourful world presented from a top-down view. All of the enemies are different types of animals or robots, so you'll be avoiding mice and fish on a regular basis. A catchy, upbeat soundtrack is also present. In short, Spy Chameleon is just a fun game to play from every aspect. It doesn't have to be gritty – instead it reminds us why we got into games in the first place: to have fun.
While 75 levels may seem like a ton, it will only take a few hours to get through them. There is a hard mode, as well as the aforementioned challenges, to keep you coming back, but Spy Chameleon is far from a lengthy game. However, the idea feels fully realized, so it won't leave you like there wasn't enough content
Despite Spy Chameleon being developer Unfinished Pixel's first game, the Barcelona-based studio has done a great job at simplifying a genre that can be daunting to newcomers. While some may be worried that this simplicity comes at a cost, the game also offers up a healthy challenge to experienced players. It may never reach the high points of a Metal Gear Solid or Thief game, but it does provide a constant helping of highly polished fun.