Counterspy will infiltrate your heart

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First Posted: 9/7/2014

Summer is called the game drought because there is a distinct lack of big blockbuster games. That is where the smaller indie games really stand out and thrive. The last few weeks have marked the release of some great indie games and one of the stand out titles of this season is the espionage thriller, “Counterspy”. One thing that makes spy thrillers so exciting is the high steaks, and what can be higher then stopping the United States and the Soviet Union from going to war by sabotaging both sides and mutually assured destruction does not happen.

“Counterspy” is a side scrolling 2D action game with some really intriguing stealth elements. The story takes place in a fictional, alternate history Cold War where the U.S. and the U.S.S.R are in a nuclear arms race. The game doesn’t actually say it is the U.S. and Russia, they are called the Imperialists and the Socialists and they both want power over the moon.

In “Counterspy” you play as an agent of C.O.U.N.T.E.R, it’s so mysterious I don’t know what the acronym stands for. Instead of taking sides you have a more humanistic approach, you want to stop both sides from achieving their goal.

The astetic of “Counterspy” is sleek and distinct, it is really cartoony and a bit over the top. The way the story is told it reminds me of an episode of “Get Smart”, because it feels like a satire of spy movies and the actual Cold War. It is very tongue-in-cheek and a little bit silly. The action would feel right at home in a classic 60’s super spy movie.

The gameplay is a lot of fun. You sneak your way through each of the missions, karate chopping villains, shooting bad guys, and finding blueprints for all sorts of fun spy weapons and gadgets. As you progress through the levels you earn upgrades which make you stronger and more capable. Also if you want you can compare your game scores with your friends and other people online.

To complete your objective you must infiltrate both sides of the conflict, gathering intel in order to thwart their efforts. As you complete your missions it rolls back time on a device called the “Doomsday Clock” which is a device that measures how close the world is to war.

You really have to pay attention to the DEFCON meter, this will go up and down depending on how stealthy you are or how many objectives you meet. If you let your DEFCON get too high it will be easier in the next mission for the guards to see you, so there are real consequences if you don’t pay attention.

If you do fail in your mission and have to start over. The levels are randomly generated, so they will be different every time you play. The mechanics will still be the same, so you will get the hang of the new layouts and situations in no time. Sometimes the levels might be similar, but the guards and the secrets might be in a different place.

Sometimes getting past the guards can be quite challenging, the A.I is rather smart and it gets harder as the game progresses. Their hearing and sight gets sharper so you have to step up your game if you want to make it through.

Even though it is all about sneaking around, there is a large amount of killing. You have to sneak up behind guards and snap their neck and early on you just get normal guns. Later, you get quieter silenced guns and knock out darts which help you stay out of sight. Most of the time it is a side scrolling game, but when you do get into cover the perspective changes to an over the shoulder view which is more like a shooter game.

You have to pop up from cover to see where the guys are and shoot, which leaves you open to take damage which can be very hard when the enemies pull out the big guns such as rockets. The shooting sections are not as fun as the sneaking around sections so don’t get caught.

Overall, Counterspy is a pretty good game, I enjoyed the cartoony atmosphere and the fun stealth gameplay. Counterspy has a lot of great ideas but the difficulty can be frustrating at times. If you are looking for a new downloadable title or you are a fan so spy thrillers or espionage stories then Counterspy will infiltrate your heart.

Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail at