Stealth-focused Clandestine preview | rough shadows

After first witnessing Clandestine’s Early Access trailer and screenshots, this first game coming to mind was Ubisoft’s third-person stealth-focused Splinter Cell series. Being a fan of Sam Fisher’s adventures, I thought about giving developer Logic Artists’ latest a spin. After a few hours getting accustomed to its Early Access build, I’ve realised Clandestine could very well be an excellent title; just not in its current state.

In order to avoid any potential spoilers – as developer Logic Artists promises Clandestine to be a story-focused, globe-trotting adventure – its Early Access version includes four standalone maps, ranging from a construction-site to a bank. These four maps feature three types of objectives, including killing/incapacitating everyone, reaching the ex-filtration point, or gathering three random pieces of intelligence.

Before every assignment, our heroine – going by the name of Katya – is able to choose between two outfits: a low and high profile one. As its name implies, enemies will have a harder time spotting our spy when she’s wearing the low-profile suit. On the flip-side, it provides very little protection against bullets. As you might expect, the high-profile suit is exactly the opposite, in addition to allowing you to carry more gadgets and ammunition.

The Early Access build provides players with three types of pistols, two types of ammunition, in addition to a distracting and a stunning gadget and two types of grenades.

An interesting feature Clandestine adds to the proverbial table is the ability of empowering our spy with different “dead-drops” containing ammunition and/or first aid kits. These are limited, however, so one must use them wisely. Another distinctive inclusion is the ability of bribing soldiers in real time. In this way, these newly-paid henchmen will suddenly ignore our protagonist. While the bribing stuff doesn’t make a lot of sense and kind of hurts the overall gameplay, the dead-drops are a nice touch. My suggestion, however, would have been to allow players to choose their location before the mission, not in real time.

As it’s expected of any respectable spy these days, Clandestine allows Katya to hack doors and cameras via a mini-game. Gaining control over a camera allows you to tag enemies, and even disable them, in order to not raise the alarm once our protagonist crosses their line of sight. Bribing guards, setting up dead drops, and everything related to hacking can also be done by another player, in the form of a cooperation mode. This adds an interesting twist to an otherwise ordinary feature, and could prove to be Clandestine’s highest selling point.

On the flip-side, this is clearly a very early version of Clandestine, as the animations could be better, the protagonist moves way too slow when crouched, the response-times need to be faster, and various elements like bottles don’t properly break. Furthermore, even though I was once spotted by a camera and the alarm was raised, no one bothered to look for me. Even worse – one time, after an enemy spotted Katya, he would just randomly run around her but never engage. To sum it all up, the optimization also needs to kick-in as soon as possible, as the requirements are way too demanding for what Clandestine offers. At the very least, the game’s soundtrack perfectly fits the desired tone.

Unfortunately, Clandestine’s Early Access version is way too early for the public. I honestly cannot comprehend how developer Logic Artists expects customers to pay 27 Euro (about 30 dollars) for what clearly is an alpha-stage version. It’s got some interesting ideas, and with the right budget and time, Clandestine is destined to be a good – maybe even great – third-person stealth-focused title. For the moment, though, it’s best for it to keep to the shadows.