Typically stealth games have players trying to sneak into a top-secret base filled with elite military troops, or on a meticulously planned assassination mission to take out a valuable target. Noego Games’ Level 22: Gary’s Misadventures features none of these high drama affairs, but rather something much more low-key and relatable: being late for work. While the issue at hand may not impact international affairs, it’s just as important for Gary, as if he’s late just one more time he’ll lose his job.
In order to help Gary save his job, players will have to guide him through his busy office building without getting caught by co-workers or security guards. This means taking advantage of everyday objects such as coffee, cardboard boxes, books, and erasers to get sneak past these obstacles. Gary isn’t like MacGyver, though, as he’ll have help from his buddy Marty, who gives him advice over the phone.
The stealth gameplay here is very linear, and more akin to solving a puzzle, so while you won’t be awestruck by emergent gameplay like in Metal Gear Solid V, you’ll still feel smart for having solved a tough level. Over the 20+ stages the game does a fantastic job of keeping things fresh. From new enemy types to gameplay mechanics, something is always being added into the mix.
Many standard stealth game mechanics are present in Level 22, as you’ll have to avoid vision cones and will be able to hide in small areas such as lockers to get past foes. This helps the game feel instantly familiar, and shows how ridiculous these video game concepts are when used in an office setting. Sure, Solid Snake may hide under a cardboard box in order to save the world, but would you ever attempt to do that to do something much simpler?
Each set of levels ends with an interesting boss fights, which range from the head of security that rides a golf cart to much more ridiculous encounters later on. Not only are these a fun change of pace, but they’ll also test your skills. Players will have to put together all of the mechanics they know in order to outsmart these enemies, and these moments end up being some of the most memorable parts of Gary’s Misadventures.
Not only does Level 22 have a humorous premise, but it’ll keep you laughing all the way until the credits roll. Plenty of the mechanics, such as using donuts to lure guards away from their set routes, are just plain funny to use in what is typically such a serious genre. The fun interplay between Gary and Marty, which serves to both explain new gameplay features and provide additional humor, is also one of the highlights. Noego has done a fantastic job of creating an enjoyable atmosphere here, and it’s one that stands out as an example of humor done right in games.
While the title’s iOS origins are noticeable, Moving Player has done a fantastic job making the game feel great on consoles. While it’d be nice if the controls were remappable, you’ll never miss using a touchscreen. The game’s distinctive isometric look still shines, and doesn’t suffer from being on a larger screen. Plus ,the ability to move while manipulating the on-screen camera make this the definitive way to play Level 22.
Gary’s Misadventures is over relatively shortly after it begins, but there are some good reasons to come back to the title after you’ve finished it. Each level features two different hidden objects: a hidden collectible that is found in the background, and a more in-depth secret such as a locked filing cabinet that you’ll have to find a key code for. Finding all of these secrets will help lengthen the experience, but it’s still a fun ride even if you just want to run through the main story.
It’s also worth noting that Level 22 is very forgiving and accessible for a stealth game. The controls are always easy to learn, and checkpoints help make getting caught a learning experience rather than a harsh penalty. You won’t have to redo large portions of a stage repeatedly, and the game is a much more fun time because of that.
Level 22: Gary’s Misadventures is a delightful take on a genre that is often uninviting. While other stealth games may be too mechanic heavy for their own good, Noego has designed an experience that is challenging but also highly accessible, making this a good game to dive into even if the genre isn’t typically your cup of tea.
This review is based on the Xbox One version, which we were provided with.
Level 22: Gary's Misadventures is a delightful twist on a genre that can take itself way too seriously at times. It manages to make fun of how ridiculous stealth games can be, and provides a solid challenge itself even if it doesn't last that long.