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Have You Played... El Hijo - A Wild West Tale?

Toy soldier

Stealth games are rarely just about sneaking past enemies. Like shooters, they revolve around murder. Sneaky murder. Hitman is about murdering targets, but while wearing a chicken suit. Deus Ex is about murdering, but you have cool robot arms. Metal Gear Solid is about murdering your brother, but also nanomachines and the La Li Lu Le Lo and also Jack and Rose from the Titanic or something and also cardboard boxes and Johnny needs to do a poo.

El Hijo - A Wild West Tale, however, is all about avoiding conflict. And it's one of the most wholesome and pure stealth games I’ve played in the past few years. Rather than some sort of superhuman special agent, you play as a six-year-old boy that’s been separated from his mother, and your main aim is to reunite with said mam. And you don’t do that by leaving a trail of bodies in your wake. Instead of piano wire and silenced pistols, you use things like bottle rockets, wind-up toy soldiers and a slingshot to get past guards who are blocking your exit in levels.

If one of those pesky adults spots you and tries to cut you off at the pass, your only defence is to run away. And, given that they’re old and wrinkly and stupid and old, they have very bad eyesight. So, it’s not too difficult to put some distance between you and the seniors, as long as you have a clear path into a shadow-y area.

It’s far from perfect: the lack of an MGS-style map means it's sometimes difficult to tell where your enemies are looking, and your Instinct ability (for lack of a better term) is far too sluggish, even with the game’s more relaxed pace. Still, if you’re looking for a non-violent, playful stealth game, you could do far worse than El Hijo.

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