Master Spy (PC)

MasterSpy01Ever fancied being the world’s number one spy? Dodging laser beams, slipping through motion sensors and avoiding…sharks. From two man development crew comes a game that’s all about playing it sneaky. Master Spy is an 80’s retro inspired stealth platformer, although it’s fair to say it could also be classed as a puzzler. With a limited skillset of only a jump and handy invisibility suit, players will be tested to their limit across increasingly difficult and frustrating levels.

In this game you’ll play as Master spy who is well…a master spy. In the world of undercover espionage his stealthy expertise are unmatched, so it’s no wonder that he piqued the interest of the Gale-Electro company who have been having trouble with information leaks. The item in question is a top-secret tape reel containing certain sensitive material. Master Spy’s mission is to recover said reel, his first stop is rival company Feldstrom Futures, but his objective will eventually lead him all over the world. The further his investigation takes him the more apparent things are not quite what they appear and a conspiracy seems to take root. The plot overall is rather cheesy and goes completely over the top (watch out for the invisible assassins) but it’s a lot of fun to watch and it’s very well written.MasterSpy03

This is at its core a stealth platformer, although some could argue it’s a high tense puzzler. Master Spy is not like other secret agents you would have seen in other games. He’s not like some other spy operatives that I could mention that’s for sure; he’s not one to rely on heavy duty weaponry or over the top take-downs. Instead his particular skill set has been stripped right back to the basics of just running, jumping and hiding. Besides the ability to jump your only tool to aid you is a prototype cloaking suit, kind of handy although it’s no good if guards bump into him and his movement speed is significantly reduced. That’s really all there is to the gameplay there’s no later abilities added in to increase his repertoire. Despite how simplistic the gameplay is it’s interesting to see how these limited tricks can be used in more creative ways. The controls are nice and crisp allowing you to pull of lighting quick movements with ease. While he may be the master spy be prepared to die a whole lot! Levels require a lot of trial and error runs to fully learn each areas secrets and patterns. Thankfully you don’t have to dwell to long on your deaths as you can instantly jump straight back into the action.

There are 50 levels in total that play out over 5 different locations. The main goal for each level is to obtain key cards and gain access to the sealed security doors. With each level advanced the difficulty rises significantly by throwing in a new traps or the additional key card. Each level will see Master Spy taking on some frankly ridiculous security setups. Excluding your common guards you’ll also have to deal with security cameras, laser beam grids, motion sensors, pressure sensitive switches and attack dogs. Each have different rules, putting it simply guards will notice you if you enter their field of vision so you’ll need your cloaking suit. However it’s no effect against dogs whose keen sense of smell will alert them to you presence the second you set foot on their turf. Levels are short in reality consisting of only a few frames but they’re very difficult and really intense requiring some quick thinking at times to progress.

You have the choice of playing in two different modes to start, Novice and Master. The first is the easier of the two offering checkpoints mid-level so it’s easier to hone your skills here. The second is the tougher Master mode which removes all of the first’s checkpoints this is when you really need to keep it together and show off your stealthy capabilities. The difficulty of the later levels may put some players off as timing can become much more crucial. So much so that you’ll need to memorise entire levels, learn all of the movement patterns and then quickly and swiftly execute every action to an almost pixel perfect degree. That said there’s a huge sense of accomplishment if you manage to surpass a particularly irritating scenario.MasterSpy02

The pixilated artwork is very reminiscent of the 16-bit console generation of old, and it’s all been pulled off excellently. Unlike the retro console generation there’s no hardware limitations, so each environment feels different, are nicely populated and gorgeous to look at. As if the normal level artwork wasn’t enough of a treat we are also given some fantastically drawn cutscenes which in total take up a whopping 25-30 minutes. Then on top of that there’s the completely killer soundtrack provided by Andre Allen Anjos of the Remix Artist Collective. It’s fast paced rhythm really puts you in to the right mind set of the character you’re taking the place of and for the areas you’ll be traversing. In fact it’s so good it’s worth mentioning that the soundtrack can also be downloaded separately for you to enjoy anywhere!

Master Spy is a solid stealthy platformer that invokes memories of a generation gone by. The visuals are lush to look, the animated cutscenes are a treat and there’s one epic soundtrack. However to play this game you’re going to need a lot of patience, levels are not only difficult but they’re easily frustrating to the point where death becomes a common occurrence. Put in some time and practise though and you’ll find a great challenge that’ll test even the most battle hardened platform gamers.

8
Positives
+ Fantastic pixilated artwork
+ Slick control scheme
+ Superb retro soundtrack
Negatives
– Frustratingly hard scenarios

This review is based off a review code of Master Spy provided by Turbo Gun.

This review was originally published on the site GamersFTW which unfortunately has now been taken down. It’s been published on my personal blog, DanielVaughanReviews, out of respect for the developers/publishers that were kind enough to give me review copy of their game.

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