The world’s intelligence community’s secrets are in danger, with countless cover agents’ identities exposed. Someone has to find those responsible, in the cover of night with Clandestine operations.
Genre(s): Stealth | Strategy
Developer: Logic Artists
Publisher: Logic Artists
Release Date: November 2015
Played Full Single Player Campaign
Purchase At: Steam
Clandestine is an asymmetrical co-op game, that means that players don’t have the same roles, they’re not controlling characters with the same skills working together. Instead they take on one of two roles, Field Agent or Hacker. In the single-player campaign, you control both, giving you a complete appreciation of both playstyles. The Field Agent is your standard 3rd person stealth action character, moving and interacting with the environment, completing the missions while physically there. The hacker tackles the network and breaks down security, or obtains classified information.
What makes Clandestine unique is that the two roles need each other. There’s only so much the Hacker can do without someone there to physically link computers to the network—especially considering the game takes place in the 90s—and without them there to find secret information, the Field Agent is going to have a hard time lying their way through security or finding that one keypad code.
The game begins with your typical tutorial mission, showing you the ropes as Martin and Katya, Hacker and Agent respectively, learn to work together. But midway through the stage, the training wheels come off and you need to start thinking like a spy.
I’ve been watching Chuck again these past few days, so much like that series, I bumbled my way through the missions, with occasional moments of glory. What I enjoyed about was the absolute freedom of approach. I could be silent, showy, deadly, stealthy, a master of takedowns or simply a ghost that no one ever saw coming. And what made it even better was that my actions had consequences. One mission in London I seriously screwed up, entering via stealth and deception but going out in style in a blaze of glory and a hail of bullets. But because of that, a later mission in a company that hired the same security company as those in London, had increased security and all guards were strapping bulletproof vests. The boss berated me for my approach, and it was then I realised my actions really mattered.
But sometimes it wasn’t my fault. Sometimes it was just the poor AI, collision detection and bad aiming that caused my downfall. NPC guards will often walk in circles around the same spot and I mean that in the most literal way possible, making them impossible to bypass. When things were working properly, then it was the cover mechanic that sent my mission into the red zone, with the characters poking so much out of cover that everyone can see them from a mile away. And lastly, don’t ever attempt a headshot in this game, it’s just impossible, even if you have the target in your sights. The shot will always miss. Still, I proved I was a masochist because I insisted on taking the bullets that did NOTHING if you don’t get a headshot in.
When you finish a mission, you get your score but also your footprint, a number that represents just how much noise or evidence you left in your wake—aka the consequences. There are also optional objectives, such as Ghost and McGyver (I personally loved this one), to remain invisible to security forces and never have a gun in your hand . These give you additional points to your score, which means more resources in later missions.
Story wise it’s a by the numbers spy thriller. If you’ve seen, read or played some of those before, you can predict where things are going way before that happens, but it’s not a bad story, hitting the right beats to keep you interested. The downside is you get most of the plot through heavy-handed exposition cutscenes. It would’ve been better to get more plot elements in the game itself, in non-mission-essential documents and intel. In fact, most of the intel you do collect is for score or secondary objectives, but don’t add anything to the story.
These pieces of intel though, add contacts and other resources, which can help in later missions with covers or “pressure points” on key people. I love this and it reminds me of a Tabletop RPG I love called Spycraft, where everything is about building a network.
While there isn’t much character development, Clandestine does take the time to use their backstories. In one mission where my character dressed as possibly the least attractive prostitute in all of Poland, there was a sudden complication in the form of a girl whose brother Katya had killed. The moment she saw me she shouted, “I know you, you FSB traitor! Are you going to kill me like you did Mikhail?” And mission was over. I loved it, spy-life mixing with real life. It’s in these moments that the game shines. They don’t come along that often but it is pretty damn cool.
Character models are stiff and they often go through each other when you do takedowns. When they speak, they’re emotionless, as if they were bored about the game, thus making the long briefings and debriefings seem to go on forever. The lip-sync is all over the place.
Environments are much better, though a couple are rather samey. If you’ve seen one office building you’ve seen them all. The Polish house and the Danish locales on the other hand are outstanding, with tons of tiny details.
Voice acting is a mixed bag. Katya, Martin and their boss sound convincing and I really connected with them. The rest on the cast, allies and enemies alike could barely convince me they were human, let alone they were spies, or were angry, or confident or even smug. And in a spy thriller, performances carry a lot of weight.
Clandestine is a fun game and one of the very few games where your playstyle has direct consequences on future missions. The story might be predictable but it’s a nice classic thriller! Also, play with a friend, it’ll make this even better.
4/5 – Exceptional!