Never Stop Sneakin’ is a rare thing indeed. Attempting to emulate a game of the PSX era, it retains the blocky graphics, colourful visual cues and top-down design of a game from that time. It’s also the single best Metal Gear Solid parody ever devised, right down to the time paradoxes and vampires.
You play as a member of the world's most elite stealth operatives: The Department of Sneakin'. Your job now is to stop Amadeus Guildenstern, who has managed to kidnap every American President who ever lived. All at the same time.
The mention of a stealth game likely brings to mind tense moments of hiding in lockers and mapping the patrol route of guards. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as the game instead opts to focus instead on a high speed and simplified version of stealth combat. Because sound doesn’t carry nearly so far in other games, enemies rely much more heavily on line of sight, allowing you to perform Hotline Miami style rushes through facilities. The bonus of having a few inventory items, notably smoke bombs, activate automatically if caught which limits the typical frustration of the genre.
The gameplay itself is ultimately repetitive, but it downplays this problem via randomly generated designs a-la roguelikes. You can keep returning to the same level only to find entirely new traps, guard patrols and turrets put in your path, each of which is broken up by a boss fight. Unfortunately, this is the game’s greatest strength and weakness. These qualities will help to make it appeal to many fans usually averse to the genre, but the fact it is streamlined to the point of simplicity will be a turnoff for many old hands at stealth games. The problem is only enhanced thanks to how the character performs many actions without prompts. This is fine for split-second reactions, but in other situations it almost seems as if the game is playing itself.
Another definite hit or miss element is how everything revolves around these runs through enemy areas, with little offered beyond this quality. Building up your base is a simplistic affair which ties so heavily into raiding enemy facilities that it becomes and end-game grind to grab the final few bits required. By this point you have learned the ins and outs of its tricks, so it simply seems to add on another few hours, stalling you before the end.
Gamers who never experienced the PSX and N64 generation will likely not see the appeal of this experience, but to those who did this is a brilliant love letter to the era. It parodies everything possible about the genre and style of the game while showing affection for everything that worked during this era.
NEVER STOP SNEAKIN’ / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: HUMBLE HEARTS LLC. / PLATFORM: PC, NINTENDO SWITCH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW