He’s a spy! He’s a chameleon! He’s… Spy Chameleon! This twitchy action-puzzler follows the exploits of an anthropomorphic secret agent who’s able to blend into the background, thanks to his innate mimicry abilities. It has you evading sentry robots, watch_rats, and guarding goldfish in 75 action-packed levels. Rats and goldfish, really? I wonder how Unfinished Pixel, the developers of Spy Chameleon, manage to include those in the narrative!
It turns out they don’t. Spy Chameleon doesn’t have a story; it’s good, old fashioned arcade fun in that regard, and that’s absolutely fine with me. The game’s big feature is of course your ability to change color, so that those pesky guards mistake you for a carpet or spilled paint on the floor. If you’re playing with an Xbox controller, you’re in luck, since each one of the buttons corresponds to the correct color. If you only have keyboard controls at your disposal, changing color feels a lot more clunky. I messed up quite often just because I couldn’t remember which key to press in a hurry. You and your enemies move very fast, and things get hectic when you’re trying to evade prying eyes while at the same time doing that chameleon thing.
The game’s 75 stages are divided into five sections. Each one of those introduces a new element, such as keys, switches, floor panels that change their color, and more. Reaching the end of a stage is the overall objective in every single level, but those additions keep things fresh throughout the game. I do however have a few issues with Spy Chameleon’s difficulty. There are some stages pushing the boundaries of what I was willing to put up with. Looking at you there, level 30! I had to restart said stage around 56 times before being able to move on to the next set of challenges.
Apparently, Unfinished Pixel were aiming for a Super Meat Boy-like difficulty, but I’m not really sure if they achieved that lofty goal. Those few hard levels feel unnecessarily tough, to the point of being unfair. The difficulty curve could have been slightly adjusted to prepare the player a bit more for those sucker punches. Sometimes, pixel-perfect positioning and super-human timing decide between victory and shameful defeat, and sadly it feels like a design flaw more often than a fair challenge.
I also didn’t know if my inability to finish those stages was due to me being bad, the game being unfair, or yet another bug. Early on, I encountered a desynchronization error, which made two robot sentries ever so slightly displace their cones of vision. As a result, there was no way for me to finish that level. A program restart did the trick and readjusted those naughty robots, but the damage had been done. From then on, every time I got stuck, I suspected another error. I didn’t actually notice any other bugs, so my paranoia might have been wholly unfounded, but it considerably lessened my overall enjoyment of the game.
Speaking of enjoyment: even though the game was doing a competent job most of the time, I never felt compelled to play more than a few stages at once, and I was close to just giving up on Spy Chameleon whenever I hit a difficulty spike. It’s a good game, but not a great one, and this fact only serves to magnify its flaws. However, if you succumb to its charms, there is a lot of replay value to be found here. Each level can be replayed for more collectables and achievements, and there are par times for the speed-running folks out there. Considering that the first playthrough will take you roughly about four hours, post-game content is absolutely necessary, and Spy Chameleon doesn’t disappoint in that regard.
Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?
The answer to this question is entirely dependent on your frustration threshold. If you’re up to the challenge and can ignore a few badly designed levels which crank the difficulty up to 11, then by all means, go ahead and spend the $5.99. However, if you’re easily angered, there are a lot of action-puzzlers out there that handle game progression in a more gentle and, let’s face it, better way.
- Time Played – 4 Hours
- Widescreen Support – Yes
- Resolution Played – 1366×768
- Windowed Mode – Yes
- Bugs/Crashes Encountered – Desync Error
- Control Scheme – Gamepad, Keyboard
- DRM – DRM Free
- System Specs – i5-4200U@1.60GHz, 4GB RAM, Radeon HD8670M 1GB
- Game Acquisition Method – Review
- Availability – Official Site
- Demo – No
- Saved Game Location – “\AppData\LocalLow\Unfinished Pixel\Spy Chameleon _ RGB Agent