Humble Heart's Never Stop Sneakin' attempts to parody the PSOne-era Metal Gear Solid whilst offering up its own rather impressively streamlined take on the stealth genre. Fans of Hideo Kojima's beloved franchise will instantly recognise the cocky Codec conversations, overwrought music and ludicrously monikered characters here, all presented in a perfectly pitched recreation of the look and feel of late 90's Metal Gear.
You assume the role of Agent Hummingbird, a top sneaky sneaker who, under the direction of Major Milestone, is charged with infiltrating a series of enemy bases in an effort to put a stop to the nefarious plans of Amadeus Guildenstern who has, quite cheekily, used a time machine to kidnap all the US presidents – past, present and future – and is demanding to be installed as their replacement for all time.
It's a ridiculous premise with a lot of ridiculous haircuts, and Humble Hearts has done a great job in playing it completely for laughs with codec conversations full of silly dialogue and some nutty cutscenes that genuinely made us laugh on multiple occasions. This is a lovingly-crafted pastiche, for sure, and it's one that also manages to impress on its own terms.
There are some beautifully simplified sneaking mechanics here – the touchscreen origins of this game are clear to see – that make shooting, throwing various grenades and performing stealth takedowns entirely automatic and context-sensitive, leaving you with only the direction you're travelling to worry about. If an enemy sentry, turret or camera spots you, as long as you've got a bullet or grenade in your inventory, Agent Hummingbird will fire off a lightning-fast and deadly accurate shot to ensure your cover is never blown.
The top-down levels you'll sneak through here are tiny puzzle mazes filled with security cameras, enemy goons and gun turrets that must be carefully traversed in order to gain intel and ESP – the in-game currency – from a bunch of hackable terminals. You'll often be charged with securing some hostage or specialist – by simply approaching them – and most missions are topped off with a quick boss battle or two.
It's straightforward and fairly repetitive stuff but it's stylishly made and full of fun little nods to its inspiration; you'll instantly recognise most of the sound effects here from classic Metal /, and dodging in and around locations feels great owing to those sleek and simple controls. There are also a ton of silly unlockable character and weapon skins to keep you busy unlocking as you progress through the campaign here and we thoroughly enjoyed manoeuvring through dangerous enemy territory dressed as an engineer wielding a tactical fish.
Where Never Stop Sneakin' does run into a little trouble is in its rather unnecessary base building mechanics which rely on you collecting ESP in order to further the construction of your camp and in turn the story. This leads to unavoidable grinding as you progress, meaning you'll have to replay levels which are already pretty samey and straightforward the first time around, and the whole thing comes off as an attempt to artificially extend the lifespan of a game which really would have suited a much shorter running time. Boss battles also tend to get repeated and we found ourselves tiring of taking on the same helicopter fight several times over for no real reason.
However, unnecessary bloat and misguided grinding aside, Never Stop Sneakin' is still a fun budget title that nails its ripping of Metal Gear Solid, is crammed full of silliness and has its very own brand of slick and addictive sneaking action at its core.
Never Stop Sneakin' is a lovingly crafted parody of early Metal Gear Solid games that pairs some genuinely funny dialogue and ridiculous characters and cutscenes with its own brand of impressively slick stealth action. Its levels are pretty repetitive and there's quite a bit of unnecessary grinding and replaying of missions in an effort to artificially extend the running time but, overall, this is a fun little title that's perfect for dipping in and out of for a hit of light-hearted tactical espionage action.