Maybe the big-budget publishers are done with major new releases for 2017, but indie studios like Humble Hearts are happy to fill in the gap. That studio is launching its Never Stop Sneakin’ today, and you can get it for $15 on Nintendo’s Switch. This is a stealth-action adventure with simple controls and a lot of jokes that come at the expense of Metal Gear Solid.
This is Humble Hearts second game. That developer, which is really just Dean Dodrill, previously released the furry-filled Metroid-style game Dust: An Elysian Tail. Never Stop Sneakin’ is very different. It has you infiltrating bases and taking out enclaves of guards in a mission to defeat an evil terrorist organization called The Executive Branch led by one-time president (for 45 minutes) Amadeus Guildenstern.
The Executive Branch features a number of villainous characters that fill out Guildenstern’s cabinet. These include Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Acula (who is probably a vampire), Vice President Helicopter (who is a helicopter), and Senators Schad & Freud. This is all a clear spoof on the serious and silly story of Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid games.
And the core of the action in Never Stop Sneakin’ is also an homage to Konami’s espionage series. You must complete missions in an enemy compound that have you trying to collect special items or characters that can help you. But Humble Hearts has boiled down the player interactions into their simplest form.
You only use one input in Never Stop Sneakin’, and that’s the stick (or the touchscreen of the Switch). Every other action is contextual. If you walk up behind an enemy, you’ll slice them with your sword. If you walk into a guard’s vision cone, and you have a rare round of ammunition in your silenced weapon, you’ll shoot them without any input needed. If you don’t have ammunition, they’ll shoot you until you run and hide. If you run into a camera’s vision cone, you’ll throw down an EMP grenade if you have one.
It’s a simple system, but you are still doing a lot of exciting actions. I think it’s obvious that Humble Hearts designed Never Stop Sneakin’ for smartphones first, and Dodrill happened to move it to Switch before releasing the iOS or Android versions. But it works, and that’s because the rules and systems are all easy to understand. For example, you don’t have to guess where an enemy is looking, the game illustrates the vision cone to you right in the world.
To get reductive about it, Never Stop Sneakin’ is like if you gave Metal Gear Solid the Crossy Road treatment. And I think, like Crossy Road, this is a game that you’ll play in short bursts for the next couple of months.