Counter Spy

Good day agents, by reading this review you agreed to take on a dangerous mission. No backsies.
A menacing mission, one of espionage and sabotage. Your mission is to infiltrate top secret facilities on US and Soviet soil, gather intel on the launch plans for nuclear missiles and prevent mutual destruction. Welcome to:

Counterspy, released in 2014 on various systems. The one I’m reviewing is the PS-Vita version, of course. A 2.5D game set in an alternate timeline of the cold-war 60s era. Taking inspiration of the romantic spy elements of 1960s cinema. The artwork is top-notch. Dynamighty employed an ex-Pixar employee for much of the designs and concept art. You can pick up on an “Incredibles” vibe a lot through the game, albiet both products gleened from 1950-60s designs.

The aesthetics of the game are very atmosphereic and full of life. The environments feel lived in as well as functioning.

The first thing you’ll noticed is that it plays like a standard 2D side scroller/platformer while employing stealth elements, but with a sudden perspective change.

By doing this, you can stay out of guards view and take them out one at a time from cover before they notice any danger. Providing a type of mini game on top of sneaking past guards through platforms.
You can still sneak up on guards from behind and take them out with kung fu training, courtesy of Captain Kirk.

However, Switching perspectives, you not only gain better aim at guards, but various explosive objects otherwise out of firing range from the standard 2D layout, as well as any insight on hidden paths.

Guard: “I must go, my people need me”

The level design is something else. CounterSpy boasts a random generated expirence. No one playthrough is the same. This is the meat of the game that I thoroughly enjoy.
See here, I went down the ladder and took out the guards.

If I took the time, I could have sneaked passed the guards and checked to the left. These hidden paths are a part of the randomly generated algorithm employed by the game.

This path would have lead me not only to formulas to unlock, but past the guards at a better postion to take them out.
Often, when playing games with puzzles like these, once they are solved, they’re solved. Like opening up a maze book and finding out somoneone already solved all the puzzles. Wheres the replay value? This being randomly generated creates more opportunities to solve puzzling situations again and again.
These secret paths are often strewn about the levels. So look out for them. They are often behind vents or various objects in the foreground. They will often help you get past guards otherwise just on the other side of a door, there is a clear indicator showing you guards up ahead, helping you find cover.

The aim of each mission is to get to the end of the level to lower the defcon level. A long the way, you find formulas and blue prints to unlock weapons and other perks, like silent running, for power ups. What you’re really looking for though, are the launch plans for the missiles to be launched, so you can sabotage the planned attack on the moon.

You can beat the game by only playing one side. Be it USA or Russia.

There isn’t much incentive to switch between the two. It would have been better if they found a way where you have to switch between USA or Russia because during my play, even through advanced, the opposing nations defcon never rose past 3. I was infiltrating Russia the whole time. Also, there isn’t any difference between the two. The guards behave the same. Same weapons, and nearly identical layouts to their military missile bases, leaving the gameplay switching between two countries, a little dry.

The game can be beat in roughly 2-hours max, and each level is fairly short. The load times on the Vita are a bit of pain though. Either way, I enjoyed this title for what it is and recommend it for anyone who wants a quick game to get into.

This review will self-destruct in 3.2.1…


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