Preview: Clandestine

Many games in recent years have used hacking as a primary gaming mechanic, Watch Dogs being the most recent example of this, and yet Clandestine manages use hacking mechanics in refreshing ways. By giving you full access to any and all hackable devices, it offers endless possibilities. Clandestine doesn't ask the question 'What can you hack?', but instead asks 'What can you not hack?'.

Clandestine prides itself on it's hacking system. You're given full access to the enemy database right off the bat, giving you plenty of options in how you will approach your mission objective. Switching between the operative on the ground and the hacker is a seamless transition, one that you will do on a regular basis, even when you're inside the compound itself.

When playing solo, I made a habit of keeping a similar strategy for each mission; I would use the camera's to scout the area and tag enemies before disabling it. Tagging enemies allows you to see them through matter and anticipate their movements, but you can only mark three enemies at a time, so choose wisely. This kind of preparation is time consuming, and I spent more time preparing than practicing infiltration. When I was finally ready to infiltrate the area, I took the base sector by sector, using my hacking capabilities to open locked doors along the way, tagging new enemies as I took out others, thereby allowing me to keep my eyes on the objective, without the risk of an enemy sneaking up on me.

Clandestine's combat isn't the highlight of the show, but there are plenty of options to tinker with. Before you even set foot in the level, you will have to pick a loadout. You can choose between stealth or combat inspired get-ups, the latter of which grant more slots for ammunition and gadgets. Two examples of gadgets are the banshee, which temporarily stuns the target, and a pager that distracts enemies. In the portion of Clandestine I played, I was given the option of three silenced pistols and two types of ammo, but I expect more to be added in the final product.

The combat in Clandestine is unforgiving. Getting spotted usually results in a couple of bullets to the chest, and subsequent death. This is why stealth is so important in Clandestine. While other stealth offerings, such as Metal Gear Solid V, offer an 'all guns blazing' option for those who prefer it, Clandestine is against this play-style. It describes it's difficulty as 'old-school', and it's hard to disagree. While you can alter your set-up to give you an advantage in shootouts, I found that picking a loadout with stealth in mind was a far easier approach.

Clandestine's co-op mode may end up being the main attraction for players. If you decide to play solo, you will take the role of both field agent and hacker, but in co-op mode these roles are split between the two players. This might sound like a disadvantage, but having a second player guide you through the area and watch your back leads to a much more fluid experience, one where preparation is unnecessary. It relies on good teamwork and communication, and I would expect that time challenges will be added to levels in the final product, to encourage players to work together and get the best possible time.

Clandestine's story fits into the very cool "post cold war era", where a series of assassinations on both sides of the iron curtain results in the development of the Kingbridge Executive, of which you are a member. It's certainly well trodden territory, but who doesn't love some post cold war espionage?

Clandestine fancies itself as a stealth game, but it's the hacking system which holds the most potential. The cooperative mode in particular shows promise, as one player plays as the hacker and the other plays as the field operative. Logic Artists have a lot going for them of the back of their last game, Expeditions: Conquistador, and they certainly look on track with Clandestine. I just hope that the final release is more popular than the name suggests.