LEVEL 22, a stealth avoidance game from Noego, is now available from the app store. Featuring interesting level design, a cool pixel art aesthetic, and a quirky sense of humor, LEVEL 22’s restricted vision and reliance on trial-and-error often left us wandering the halls in frustration.
LEVEL 22 Pros:
- Interesting level design and lots of tactics available to avoid detection
- Chiptune soundtrack meshes well with pixel art graphics
- Controls are pretty simple to use
- Cool secrets to uncover to flesh out the storyline
LEVEL 22 Cons:
- Viewpoint too restrictive
- Not always evident how to use environmental objects to your advantage
- Difference between hiding in plain sight and being detected is unclear
LEVEL 22 follows the adventures of Gary, an office grunt whose birthday binge leaves him hungover and late for work. Gameplay is focused on his attempt to sneak into work and make it to his office on the 22nd floor undetected by co-workers, security guards, and anyone else who might blow him in to the boss. Assisted by a former co-worker via cell phone, Gary is introduced to a variety of techniques that he can use to make his way toward the stairwell door, such as luring security guards out of position with donuts, hiding his face behind newspapers, ducking into cabinets, crawling through air ducts, and disguising himself as an abandoned cardboard box. Along the way, he’ll also have the opportunity to stumble upon knick knacks that belong to his phone-a-friend, as well as discover secret rooms and crack wall safes to uncover company secrets. Sneaking past people who are facing Gary will bring up a red vision cone that represents what Gary’s foes can see. You often have a moment or two before recognition kicks in and Gary’s cover is blown.
Despite its fun premise, we found the lack of direction and minute differences between being spotted and remaining unseen to be detrimental to the amount of fun we expected to have. Unlocking wall safes requires the gamer to check the environment for clues to the 6-digit code, but the typeface is tiny and difficult to read. The pixel art looks great, but it often disguises the collectible knick knacks among other general office items so that they didn’t stand out in any significant way. You can often hide in plain sight, though it’s not evident why a security guard will spot you in one location as opposed to another. Many of the puzzles are timing-based and tedious, though getting caught allows you to immediately restart from your last checkpoint, so it’s not too punitive. The chiptune soundtrack is great, but it does get a little repetitive after a while. Controls simply require you to tap where you want to move, with interactive objects causing a pop-up button to appear when you are close enough to use them. Any collected item that can be used, like a donut or a cardboard box, appears in the upper right corner and can be utilized by tapping on its image. You can drag around the screen to get a good lay of the land, taking advantage of a bird’s eye view of the surrounding area. However, the gamer’s viewpoint is zoomed in pretty close to Gary and doesn’t allow you to see his immediate surroundings when it really counts.
Replay value is decent, as you can replay levels to acquire missed knick knacks and secrets, but we found that the gameplay lacked excitement and we didn’t feel the need to go back for missed items. There was no social gaming integration, either. A universal app for a pricey $3.99, LEVEL 22 is a 3.5-Dimple offering.
LEVEL 22 Review,