For $5 you could buy some awful fast food, 2 bottles of cheap malt liquor, maybe a magazine. Or you could buy Spy Chameleon on the Xbox One instead. It’s a top-down stealthy-type game from fledgling Barcelona developer Unfinished Pixel, and provides a lot of sneaky fun and polish for a surprisingly low price point.
As an RGB agent, you’ll navigate your way around a variety of obstacles in typical stealth fashion, but aside from moving drawers or hiding in boxes, your most valuable tool is the ability to change the color of your skin. Each of the face buttons on your Xbox controller change your chameleon to the actual color of the button itself, so A for green, X for blue, and so on. For example, if you enter a room with yellow or red tiles, you can avoid detection by swapping to the appropriate color using the Y or B button. That’s all there is to it.
“…provides a lot of sneaky fun and polish for a surprisingly low price point.”
Changing colors is the main hook here, but the developer does a fine job preventing the mechanic from over saturating the stages. In addition to your natural ability to swap shades, you’ll still be studying patrol patterns, weaving around pesky robots, and freezing creepy musclebound rat things in order to reach your goal. There’s no second chances either, so unlike most stealth games, getting caught fails the level immediately. It’s not a difficult game by any means though, and most of the longer missions have checkpoints, so it plays in to the overall scheme of things pretty nicely.
Graphically, there’s nothing good or bad about Spy Chameleon. I actually like the titular character’s design.. I mean, come on, it’s a chameleon in bandit mask and a turtle neck wearing a belt without any pants on.. but the rest of the game is pretty sub-par with nothing else standing out worth mentioning. The story isn’t worth mentioning either, as all of the stages are separated in to groups of 15, with each section offering an uninteresting plot that never manifests itself beyond simple text in the mission select screen. Although you’re initially tasked with stealing a painting, you never actually see yourself committing the act. You’ll just finish the 15th stage, and then move on to the next objective like the story never existed in the first place.
“Spy Chameleon is a pleasant surprise that definitely earned a spot on my hard drive.”
Spy Chameleon already offers a lot of gameplay for $5, but there’s also a ton of replay value if you’re in to achievements and speedrunning. Levels are designed in such a way that begs you to speedrun them, so if that’s your thing, this is an easy sell. Each stage also features two different objectives, like collecting all 10 flys or finishing under a certain time limit, and replaying a stage adds a third objective to collect a few ladybugs tucked away in tricky locations. If you’re not interested in that sort of thing, you’ll still spend a few hours playing through the game anyway. With other indies asking $20 for far less gameplay, Spy Chameleon is a total steal. Pun intended.
This is an affordable, enjoyable, and well paced arcade game that introduces new ways to prevent detection and varies enemy types often enough that the gameplay avoids becoming too samey. Although challenges are laid out in interesting ways, and the game is a blast to play, unfortunately the same can’t be said about the repetitive backdrops, which never stray from the familiar throughout the entire game. Even still, the pointless objectives and dull nature of the backgrounds never detracted from my overall enjoyment of playing Solid Snake with a turtleneck wearing lizard living a “pants optional” lifestyle. For a game developed by a small two-person team from Barcelona, Spain, Spy Chameleon is a pleasant surprise that definitely earned a spot on my hard drive.
Recommended for fans of: Stealth, fun games at low prices, leaderboards, and achievement hunting.
Bradley Keene is the Executive Editor here at What’s Your Tag?, generally handling reviews, public relations, and our social media communications on Facebook and Twitter. He’s no stranger to sinking an absurd amount of time in to an MMO, but also has a deep seeded love for quirky indie games, pro wrestling, horror films, and his hometown of Baltimore, MD. Get in touch with him by e-mail at the address above, or follow him on Twitter.