Spy Chameleon is an arcade-puzzle game by Unfinished Pixel which was originally released back in 2015 on Xbox One. The PS Vita already has plenty of puzzle games so is there room for one more or is your time better spent elsewhere? Let’s take a look!
Anybody remember Gex from the PS1 era? Well Spy Chameleon looks kinda similar but without the spunky personality… in fact without any personality at all. The game has a number of missions but at no point are you told why you’re doing something or even who you’re working for. Am I taking photos of celebrities for my own personal gain? Am I stealing Cola recipes to stop evil drink corporations? Maybe their drinks actually contain a super secret ingredient which turns people into killer monkeys and I’ve decided to stop them? Who knows? Who cares? The game’s devs obviously didn’t think it was important enough to mention what your motives are.
Every puzzle game has to have some kind of hook, preferably something unique to that game. Spy Chameleon is a stealth game but instead of avoiding enemies by just hiding behind pillars you can hide by changing colour, which makes sense as you are after all a chameleon. When standing over something red, blue, pink or green you can change colour to match the floor which, as long as the enemy doesn’t bump into you, makes you completely undetectable. It’s also kinda cool to note that the colours match up to the Playstation controller colours; so if you want to turn blue you press X, triangle for green, circle for red and square for pink.
The aim of each level is basically to stealthily make your way to a room’s exit without being spotted by anyone. Each level has 3 challenges; catch all flies, finish within a specific time limit and find all ladybirds. You’ll have to play through each level at least twice as the ladybirds only appear after you’ve finished a level once. You’ll probably play through most levels more than twice though if you’re trying to beat your fastest time. At the end of each level you can compare yourself against a leader board of your friends or check how you’ve done against the global rankings. If you have a competitive group of friends then you’ll probably enjoy seeing who has the fastest times.
Early levels are quite easy and as the aim of every level is the same it can quickly begin to feel really repetitive. The difficulty does start to ramp up though and in later levels things can get pretty tricky, especially when you have to change between colours quickly. There are quite a few levels that I had trouble getting through as in the heat of the moment I kept forgetting which button changed me to which colour.
New obstacles and enemies will be introduced as you go through the game as well as ways to overcome them. You’ll come across paint cans which you can knock over and hide in the paint splatter (thankfully it seems to be super fast drying paint as you never leave any footprints!), moving screens to hide behind and, in a nice little nod to Metal Gear Solid, there are also a few levels where you can use a cardboard box to sneak around in.
The enemies in the game range from robots with limited cones of vision to lab rats which quickly move about in a set pattern and even goldfish in little bowls which can be bumped into to make them look around. Which is basically the equivalent of tapping someone on the back of the shoulder and then quickly running in front of them, but hey as long as it works…
Each level ranges from a few seconds to a few minutes depending on how long it takes you to work out how to get past the various obstacles unseen and there are 75 levels in total so if you want to finish everything completely it will take you a little bit of time. Spy Chameleon works well on the PS Vita as it is the kind of game which is best played in short bursts.
Visually the game looks good, if a little simplistic, obviously everyone uses the same interior designer who happens to have bought colourful rugs in bulk and likes 80’s style disco flooring! There are levels set in what I assume is a hotel, an industrial looking lab and office buildings. They all look good but a little samey and uninspired. Thankfully the games music is upbeat and positive without ever becoming grating.
If I had to pick one word to describe Spy Chameleon it would be ‘functional’. There are loads of levels in Spy Chameleon it’s just a pity that the majority of them feel so similar. In small doses the game is fun and it doesn’t really do anything wrong but it also doesn’t really do anything new or exciting. The game just feels a bit mediocre and unfortunately not the kind of thing that is going to stick in anyone’s memory for too long.