Review – Undetected
With fantastic stories and characters mixed in with some great stealth-based gameplay, the Metal Gear Solid franchise is one of my favorites. They have also aged quite well, meaning I replay them quite often; I even went back and replayed Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty not long ago. But it is what it is, the franchise is over for reasons we’re already tired of reminding everyone. It’s time for indies to take its place. Undetected is one of those games. It’s a clone of an older Metal Gear Solid game, but I mean that as a compliment. It’s a surprising little game that showed up from out of nowhere.
You are called up to a mission to rescue members of a local resistance group known as ‘Los Desplazados’ in a techno-future Mexico in the year 2063. There is a story throughout Undetected, but I have to say it’s not really engaging and I can’t even remember many of the characters’ names. The few I do know to feel almost like a parody of Kojima’s weird names in games. Cutscenes are told through Portable Ops-style comic panels, which I am a fan of, even if I didn’t feel engaged with the story itself.
The gameplay is unashamedly classic Metal Gear Solid, with a top-down, narrow field of view to encourage cautious gameplay. But it does come with some more modern improvements as well. By pressing the A button when standing still, you will zoom the camera out and get a much wider FOV, being able to see what’s ahead. You can’t move during this mode, so it’s exclusively for scouting. Also, when next to a wall, pressing the LB button will snap you to it, allowing you to lean around the corner as well. It’s a solid compromise to the zoomed-in camera that does work well here.
To sneak your way through the environment, you will need to be aware of what is ahead of you, whilst avoiding puddles and metal flooring that will make a noise as soon as you step on them. You can use this to your advantage as well by pulling guards over to your position. The level design is solid enough, with rooms being almost small stealth-like puzzle encounters as you figure out the best way through guards. Or you can do what I have done in some rooms and just sprint to the next area without worrying about detection, because as soon as you leave the area, the alert state resets back to normal. However, if you do get caught and take damage it’s worth noting health resources are incredibly scarce, so be careful.
There are a bunch of weapons and gadgets to use as well. In terms of weapons, your standard pistol can’t do much. Interacting with basic things in the environment like light switches or making a noise for a quick moment. However, you will soon get more ammo types, like rubber rounds to take out enemies from a distance, and flash rounds to stun several enemies in front of you. You can use smoke bombs to mask your escape, decoys to attract guards to other locations and more. I found myself using these gadgets a fair bit but still managed to gain a stockpile; especially during boss fights, which will dump everything you need in the room.
The boss fights themselves are not great and are often either too easy, with simplistic strategies or just plain annoying. The best one of which has some resemblance to the Sniper Wolf boss fight, but lacked the same epic feeling that Sniper Wolf had. Instead, sprinting around the arena without much thought was enough to deal with him. The rest of the bosses are kinda just dull, with one simply having you bait attacks to destroy objects in the environment. It’s a bit of a shame because there are some good ideas hidden away here.
Visually, Undetected doesn’t have too much going for it. The retro look of the game is intentional, and pretty well executed, with PS1-era-looking character models and textures bringing in a nostalgic buzz. With that being said, there is a lack of imagination in the environment. Often rooms look like they are repeating and I was hoping for just a little bit more variety. It was also quite dark. There was very little to complain about the sound design, however. Considering the game’s most certainly small budget, the voice acting was actually pretty decent.
Undetected is not amazing, but it is a surprising game in the best of ways. If you are a fan of the old-school Metal Gear Solid games and are tired of replaying Snake Eater for the millionth time, then it would be worth checking this game out. It’s a well-designed stealth action game, and impressive for what’s probably very low-budgeted, but it’s not perfect and it does lose steam in its second half.
Whilst it’s intentionally dated to some degree the overall visual style of Undetected doesn’t look that good.
The core stealth mechanics are simple but surprisingly effective.
Nothing too noteworthy about the sound design. Voice acting is passable considering the budget.
Fun Factor: 7.0
A Solid call back to the classic MGS games (see what I did there?) but it does have its faults.
Final Verdict: 7.0
Undetected is available now on PC.
Reviewed on PC.
A copy of Undetected was provided by the publisher.