Indie Impressions: Master Spy (Alpha Demo)

Stealth games have had something of a rebirth as of late, starting most notably with Mark of the Ninja to move the genre away from trial and error into more organic, creative gameplay loops.

Turbogun’s Master Spy isn’t interested in that kind of stealth though. In fact calling Master Spy a stealth game almost doesn’t seem appropriate. It’s far more in line with an arcade twitch platformer, giving you small rooms to navigate with absolute precision, only instead of evading enemies you need to keep out of sight of guards and security cameras (among the other assorted traps you’d expect a spy to encounter, ie. lasers everywhere).

tumblr_ncaa147AKW1s4410vo1_1280The challenge doesn’t come so much from cleverly sneaking past guards, but in learning a level’s route and being able to expertly run along it, with faster times rewarding higher end level scores. And it’s definitely a challenge, but seemingly one that knows it’s hard and wants to play to an NES-era difficulty, but without being so punishing as to make you put the game down.

The single mission demo I played spent little time teaching me how to play, but established Master Spy’s core mechanics quickly enough that I was able to understand a room after a few failed attempts. There were spatters of frustration during this time, but also a definite satisfaction of being able to work within the tiny window of opportunity each level afforded me.

tumblr_ngi9326Hek1s4410vo1_400The slick retro-tinged noir cutscenes also hint at an enjoyably played out detective narrative, with a dark color palette and careful choreography setting an appropriately dark mood for a plot of double-crossing corporations and the nameless spy at the center of it all.

My biggest concern would be how Turbogun balances its difficulty as later levels become more complex, but the small slice I experienced has me eager to see where the project heads. Even with my limited exposure to the game, there’s a clear feeling that Master Spy knows what it wants to do, and even if it doesn’t quite achieve its goals I have no doubt it will still get there with ample amounts of style.

Impressions based on Master Spy’s public demo.

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