Silent Asshat: Stealth Bastard

By Alec Meer on November 7th, 2011 at 5:00 pm.

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Taking up my trusty, weatherbeaten pickaxe’o'electronic delights, I chip another gleaming nugget from the mountain of indie games lurking in the RPS inbox. What new gem will I mine this time? It has a fine name indeed. That name is Stealth Bastard: Tactical Espionage Arsehole. It has a core philosophy, and that philosophy is “why does stealth need to be so slow?” Turns out, it doesn’t.

Bits of Portal, bits of Super Meat Boy, bits of Splinter Cell, yet a tone and character entirely of its own, and with none of all that tedious waiting around business. Having nosed at Alpha Protocol for the first time over the weekend and run screaming from its horrific hacking minigame (don’t worry, I’ll persevere), I can’t tell you how grateful I am to just have to press a button and watch a computer’s digital defences crumble before me.

Inexplicably, Stealth Bastard – from some of the chaps at Explodemon creators Curve Studios – is entirely free. It shouldn’t be, but let’s be grateful anyway. It even has a built-in level creator.

I’ll have more to say about this when I’m not about to embark on a free-form adventure in a snow-bound fantasy land (spoilers!), so in the meantime I’ll make you watch this here trailer and then nod you in the full game’s rather tasty direction.

Oh, and if you need another reason to play it, its key developer Bidds contributed to our Poached Egg feature last week. What greater seal of approval could you wish for?

ADAM APPROACHES BEARING AN OBJECT: This seal of approval is probably the one you were wishing for. It’s a massive engraving of me to be plunged into dripping hot wax that depicts me saying “Stealth Bastard is spiffing” while beckoning from a shadowy nook.

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55 Comments »

  1. Icarus says:

    I can verify this as being a Thoroughly Fun Time. It is also double-bastard hard in places, but never to the point of unfairness. I can definitely recommend this one.

  2. sneetch says:

    That really has to be the best name I’ve ever seen.

    Oh, and I really have to do some actual work rather than faff about here avoiding it because the task is a) unclear, b) tedious and c) unclear.

  3. Fumarole says:

    *sniff* Robots never like me.

  4. CMaster says:

    With regards to hating the hacking inigame in Alpha Protocol – just make sure you stock up on lots of EMPs befre each mission so you can skip them. Sure, it costs a little, but a small price to pay if you can’t hack the game,

    • zind says:

      The hacking minigame would have been just another minigame if it had been controllable with wasd and arrows rather than wasd and mouse. As it was I managed to make it through while retaining sanity and without burning EMPs by the virtue of my mouse’s on the fly dpi-adjusting.

      That aside, I thought Alpha Protocol was definitely a good bit o fun, overall!

  5. Gibush says:

    I don’t have real work to do. Someone, if you can hear me, keep posting articles like this in front of my face!

    Yesterday was torture because I spent all day on the Skyrim forum. Today, I need things. The days will pass. Eventually. OH MAH AGAW IT’S ONLY 10 AM??! WTF? It’s only the 7th? FUUUUU

    • Durkonkell says:

      I know exactly how you feel.

      The worst part is that I haven’t decided on a race, class or name for my first character so the entire first half-day after the game arrives will be spent staring at the character creator. The second half of the day will be spent staring at ‘enter name’.

      I Am Bad At These Things.

    • Caleb367 says:

      Good to know I’m not the only indecisive dumbass who sits before a character creation screen like a, well, a dumbass. (heck, you know what the most painful part of New Vegas is? Not the deathclaws or the cazadors. It’s the very start. It goes like this: ok, I’ll play a gunslinger-type dude, so I’ll check guns, and explosives… repair? Wait, but that laser cannon thingy looks nice… but science makes me MAKE thingies! Survival, damn, I likes me gecko steaks… )

      Ok, silliness aside, anyone knowing a name generator? As is, Tamriel-sounding names? I suck at naming things. I’ll probably name my firstborn Hey You.

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      The important thing to remember about naming characters is precisely how little it means. World of Warcraft taught me this. I named all of my characters after items of cutlery (Whisk, Spatula, Toaster etc).

      I remember going back to Oblivion after WoW, loading a character and looking at the names for magical spells I had devised and had laboured for hours over. Now I just jam unrelated shit together until I’m happy. And you will be too. Potential character names: Boyne “Trouble Hands” Mcgraw. Gary. Rex Blade. Hillary Thumb. Manse Golden. Lady Ashen. Chair Dance. Jerry Ferry. Guns Justice. Gravel Bloods. Sausage Cessation Station…. Er… I need to stop.

      Incidentally, came here to praise the excellent title of the game.

    • zbeeblebrox says:

      Listen to Stephen. These are words of wisdom here.

    • Sic says:

      Nah, he’s wrong.

    • JuJuCam says:

      I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spent minutes coming up with a perfect in universe name, imagining parents that might bestow upon their offspring the magnificent moniker of Paige Brightblade or Sandor McClune only to find after a few hours of play that I’d completely forgotten what I’d called myself.

      “Gareth Grimlock has levelled up!” Who’s that? Oh… Right…

    • Mirqy says:

      Wrong or not, he thinks a toaster is cutlery. I am afraid.

  6. Mr_Initials says:

    I saw this yesterday on reddit. must get when I have some spare time

  7. yutt says:

    The art style reminds me of Revenge of the Titans.

    • Napalm Sushi says:

      My absolute first thought before reading the article was “Oo, a new Puppygames title.”

    • Cim says:

      Absolutly, I had the exact same thought. Everything from the character design to the color scheme… it’s exactly the same. Even the interleave effect looks the same.

      That’s not really a complaint though, I love that artstyle and color scheme… and the game is free. ;)

    • FriendlyFire says:

      I’m glad I’m not alone there. It’s almost uncanny how similar this looks.

    • princec says:

      Well, only sorta like us. Ish. Besides, we’re still plotting and scheming wot game to make next. It will take us rather a long time, being the slow lazy bastards we are.

      Cas :)

  8. QualityJeverage says:

    Hrm, it’s telling me I have no Sound Device, so I get no audio in the game.

    The “Support” link on their website doesn’t seem to actually do anything.

    • onebitbeyond says:

      This is a known Game Maker issue. It’s incompatible with certain sound cards, I think.

      Amazingly, the fix we use in the office is to put headphones into your PC headphone socket. o_O (doesn’t always work).

    • neckro23 says:

      This happens with Game Maker. On my sound card (C-Media chipset) I have to turn off “Xear 3D” mode or else GM games complain.

      I’m not even sure what that mode does, to be quite honest. EAX emulation maybe?

  9. Felixader says:

    Hm, i don’t seem to be able to get this started. I only can get till the screen after choosing new game or something and all there is is one button that doesn’t always activate, reads 9 and nothing else and doesn’t start anything at all.

  10. Samuel Hill says:

    Having the same problem. And there doesn’t seem to be anyway of quitting bar task manager.

    I find it hard to criticise free software but would quite like to see what this one is like.

  11. LTK says:

    I’d have installed this already if it weren’t for the intimidatingly worded EULA. Take a look at clause 3.3, where it tells you that the game can access everything on your computer and whatever’s attached to it. This is probably not intended, and I’m sure the game is quite harmless, but in this day and age we need to watch what we agree to, and they should make these clauses absolutely clear. I’ve already e-mailed support asking about it, I sure hope they make some changes.

    • stahlwerk says:

      What the hell are you talking about?
      section 3 of the EULA

      3 THE GAME
      3.1 Prior to playing the Game you should read and fully understand the rules and instructions of that Game, and you hereby confirm that you will strictly abide by them.
      3.2 Our Game is designed for use via a personal computer with the minimum specification set out at http://www.stealthbastard.com. It is your responsibility to ensure that the personal computer complies with the minimum specification and we shall have no liability to you whatsoever, if your use of the Game is delayed hindered or otherwise prejudiced due to such personal computer being incompatible with our site and not complying with the Minimum Specification.
      3.3 We reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to restrict or limit access to the Game.

      and, more relevantly Section 7:
      7 INFORMATION ABOUT YOU
      We process information about you and your game experience in accordance with our privacy policy at http://www.stealthbastard.com/privacy.html. By using our Game, you consent to such processing and you warrant that all data provided by you is accurate.

    • yutt says:

      “Take a look at clause 3.3, where it tells you that the game can access everything on your computer and whatever’s attached to it.”

      Almost any application on a Windows PC *can* do this (unless you have Windows 7 with UAC enabled {and are not running the game as administrator} or are savvy and anal enough to setup more restrictive file system permissions). Worst case the EULA is being unnecessarily honest.

    • LTK says:

      I was referring to:

      3.3 We reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to restrict or limit access to the Game and retrieve information from your personal computer and any connected equipment used to access our Game as we deem necessary to protect the security of our Game and or enforce these terms and conditions.

      But now that I’ve redownloaded the installer I see they did indeed amend it. Wish they told me!

    • SiHy_ says:

      Am I the only one who doesn’t bother reading EULAs? I feel like a HumancentiPad.

    • mogofogo says:

      @SiHy_

      Hoho. What you did there. I saw it.

    • Thants says:

      Would there be any negative effects at all if the courts were to declare EULAs invalid? They’re pretty ridiculous. The idea that for every piece of software you buy you have to “sign” a contract is crazy, especially in such a one-sided format.

  12. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    I would have gone for “Asshat Creed” as a title pun, but that’s just me.

  13. Hoaxfish says:

    I was trying to play it… then it asked me to create an account for some superfluous scoreboard. I sorta stopped at that point.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Likewise.

    • SiHy_ says:

      I almost did the same, I’m glad I did sign up though. Haven’t had that much fun with a puzzle platformer since that 2D flash version of Portal. It’s not like it asks for your email or anything, just a name and password.

    • Edawan says:

      Can’t you tell it to play offline ? I don’t remember…

      Anyway, it’s really worth the little trouble. Try it !

    • Highstorm says:

      I believe pressing Escape at that screen might allow you to run it “offline” without logging in. I discovered this by accident when it hung up on me once at the title screen.

      However the account activation in question is simply a matter of putting in a username and password. No further info required – not even an e-mail address. I was bothered at first too, but then realized it was fine!

      This lead me into chasing the fastest time in a few levels. I got in the top 10 on one, but I swear some folks have to be hacking and/or glitching to get some of the times on there. At the least they’re seeing something I don’t. And there went my work day…

    • Thants says:

      I think people complain about gamers being entitled too often, but you guys really aren’t helping.

    • LionsPhil says:

      How in the nine hells is this an entitlement issue, Thants? If I say “I’ll give you this sandwich, but first I’m going to punch you in the face”, are you being ‘entitled’ if you say “no thanks, I don’t want to be punched”?

      Wanting to avoid needless stupid baggage that the developers wasted time on is not the same as demanding more effort from the developers.

    • Thants says:

      Because it’s such a tiny thing. It just makes you type in a name and password so you can use the scoreboard. If it can’t connect or you’re offline it just continues without the scoreboard feature.

      It’s more like “I’ll give you this sandwich, but you have to unwrap it.”

      I mean, it would be better if it gave to an option to not use the login thing at all, but publicly writing off a cool, free game because of a 5 second inconvenience seems like a bit much.

    • RobF says:

      It’s hardly needless if it’s for online scoreboards (sorta the whole point of having speedrunable levels that are timed) and for level sharing so everyone can create and share them. It might be something you don’t want but come on… needless?

  14. karthink says:

    Mandatory account creation. Boo.

  15. Inglourious Badger says:

    For the name alone: downloaded

  16. onebitbeyond says:

    Hi, my name is Bidds and I made this.

    I thought I’d take a break from poaching eggs to mention a few things.

    - Yes, there’s an account system, but it’s only used to differentiate you from the other players on the leaderboards and for when you create and upload a level (think of it like a Little Big Planet thingy). There’s nothing personal, no email address. The password is just so no one pretends to be you!

    - Our lawyer wrote our EULA, so it’s aimed lawyer-to-lawyer really, a cover-your-ass situation. We read that some people thought 3.3 was strongly worded, so we changed it to be less harsh-sounding. (Really, to me, the idea that I would want your data, or would even know how to get your data, is a bit laughable. What would I do with all your data?! Seriously, I have enough on my plate as it is…)

    - I thought pointing the install to the default Program Files location would be pretty safe. However! It appears that UAC prevents programs from modifying files in that directory (looking something like this http://yfrog.com/oc72779124j). Changing it to something like C:\Games\StealthBastard solves that problem.

    - Likewise, run the game as an admin, since it needs to be able to create save files and whatnot.

    I just made this in Game Maker in my spare time, so I’m not really a PC coder (hence it’s free, and hence some of these installation issues!).

    If you’re having trouble, I hope you persevere and end up liking the game. Really it’s just a labour of love made for people to enjoy!

    Back to my eggs…

    • yutt says:

      Awesome game man. I love the art-style and the gameplay is great. For some reason it reminds me of Jetpack (and/or maybe Abuse) and Cyberdogs. Did any DOS or 8-bit era games inspire or influence your design?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jetpack_%28video_game%29

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C-Dogs

    • somini says:

      I got to say, this is one of those free games that put a lot of other bigger games to shame. What a great mixture of stealth-quickness.It even has an online leaderboard, for a free game that is quite the feat. It’s really great.

    • c-Row says:

      I just made this in Game Maker in my spare time, so I’m not really a PC coder (hence it’s free, and hence some of these installation issues!).

      The only issue I had was that the game couldn’t connect to the server once I tried to create an account and had to Escape to progress. Other than that, highly enjoyable. The music and artstyle are great, and the puzzles were demanding but never unfair. Add some minor polishing on the installation side of things and start charging money for it. Do it!

    • LionsPhil says:

      To fix this, you want to be trying to write things like savegames and settings to somewhere in the user’s profile, not the game’s install directory. See the MSDN article for games in the modern Windows world, although I don’t know if “Game Maker” will actually let you make Win32 API calls you need to get the paths.

      Don’t just try to hardcode “C:\\Users\\(name)…”, whatever you do.

    • onebitbeyond says:

      Cheers, LionsPhil. I doubt I’ll be able to sort that out without breaking existing installs. Anyway, I hope you take the few seconds to enter your username/password and get on with enjoying the game. :)

      C-Row, if you can’t connect, it’s because the servers are taking more of a beating than anticipated. Be patient and they’ll return.

  17. Donjo says:

    Game play looks sort of like a mix between Limbo and Super Meat Boy. I like.

  18. Josh W says:

    I’m sort of a bit dissapointed, only because it’s a game I thought would be for me but isn’t:

    What I love in stealth games is playing with the AI of the enemies, but there isn’t really enough scope to do that here, the levels are so cramped that apart from finding out what switches do, or other suprises, you can basically guess what you need to do within the first few seconds, and then it’s all trying to actually implement that. This is mitigated a little by the way that parts of the level get blacked out, but each individual chunk is still given it’s difficulty by being hard to pull off rather than being made more subtle, with a few nice exceptions early on.

    This means the game is more twitch than brain, with not much room for improvisation.

    If you compare it to a game like N, that also has twitch timing, almost no way to kill enemies, but the potential to manipulate and trap them etc, but it often has a much greater feeling of openness, and many of the levels allow more than one solution (at least in terms of the various looping paths you can take through them). It also gives you more ability to guess what’s coming, and there’s a lot more possibility for last minute evasions even if you do get intro trouble.

    This game does some nice stuff with dynamic shadows, and staying within them as they move, but I would rather have seen more complex patterns of light and shadow, more potential for movement, and slightly more openess over the “level designer wants to kill you” tightness.

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