Clandestine Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD


As a nineties’ kid, I remember those years fondly. Despite not being quite as flamboyant as the eighties were, people oftentimes forget just how specific that decade was when compared to what followed. It was a transitional time for just about every aspect of life, with technology and media being at the forefront of those changes. As far as spy-related films and television go, leather coats and MP5s were the way to go, with oftentimes edgy protagonists being portrayed as bona-fide badasses even when that made no sense at all. Slick, gel-ridden haircuts, sunglasses and laughably serious acting – it was all a part of the ride and I personally loved being immersed in that kind of an atmosphere, even though I never noticed how swiftly and silently it slipped away.


Firearms are surprisingly reliable in Clandestine.

I’m happy to say then, that Clandestine brought all of that back to me, even if only for a little while. To be exact, it reminded me of Nikita. The original series, I mean, not the modern “remake”. The show had a unique, unrelenting oomph to it that’s notably absent from its successor, as good of a television as it may be. Clandestine, however, managed to capture that and has thus embroiled itself into my memory from the get-go. Aside from Nikita, Clandestine is also fairly similar to the old Splinter Cell games in regards to gameplay, albeit leering sometimes too heavily on its unintended goofines gets the better of it.

There are two basic types of gameplay to Clandestine – that of the spy, Katya and the hacker, Martin. As the spy, Katya has to sneak around all kinds of heavily defended facilities while Martin provides the logistics we’ve come to take for granted in third-person stealth shooters by now. For example, where Grimm helped out Sam in Chaos Theory with all kinds of computer magic, that role now falls on the player playing as Martin, who has to work in tandem with Katya to successfully finish a mission. This is more difficult than it sounds due to the absolutely necessary cooperation the game requires between the two players, but is also -thankfully- much more fun than one might imagine.

While in Katya’s boots (sneakers), you’ll manoeuver her around the game world as per usual in TPS titles. WASD moves you around, mouse is used to aim and the rest of the functions conform to all kinds of gadgetry you’ll have to use to outsmart or outgun the opposing forces. There’s a nice feedback to Katya’s actions, but I cannot ignore the floaty movement mechanic which simply feels off somehow. The cover system breaks sometimes as well, shifting Katya into plain view of the otherwise completely oblivious security guard when you just wanted to move to the next piece of cover, Jesus. Aside from that, as I said, the guns feel appropriately powerful and world interaction works, for the most part. The role of the hacker, however, feels much more streamlined than the stealth gameplay is. Whereas Katya has to contend with her sticky moveset which is more of a hindrance than anything else, Martin has four sleek “hacking” screens to micromanage, and it’s a blast.


The hacking screen looks straight out of Mission Impossible.

It feels as if the developers really wanted you to hit the keyboard like a madman (as hacking is usually depicted in popular media) to really hit the nail on the head. It seems complex at first, but you’ll get the hang of it all in a matter of minutes, and words cannot express just how awesomely brilliant gameplay is when you really get along with your playmate. Of course, this means you’ve got to communicate as much as is humanely possible, so you can throw playing with randoms out of the window right away. Clandestine feels awfully awkward when you try to play it solo, and it’s easy to cheese your way out of tight situations with a silenced shot or two. When you’ve got a pal, however, it’s a whole different world, and only then does the game truly come alive. In those glorious moments, Clandestine feels and plays like a cheesy 90s spy-flick, and I mean that in the best possible way. Take away even a single element and it all falls apart though, which is sad.

Visually and auditively, the game ranges from mediocre to severely disappointing. The character models, textures and all that fluff looks good enough when viewed through screenshots, but the horrendous animations and stiff, unnaturally unnatural demeanor of nearly all presented characters makes the game seem worse than it actually is. The voice-work doesn’t help either, as it’s among the worst I’ve had the chance to witness in the last couple of years. If you’re into the technical stuff, you’ll do well by avoiding Clandestine in as wide an arc as possible, because it’s clearly not a hi-end product in those aspects.

If you can close an eye on those problems however, and you’ve got a mate to play with, Clandestine is one of the best asymmetrical CO-OP games currently on the market. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t even a tiny bit enchanted by this game’s flair and, despite all of its flaws, will be remembering it fondly as it rekindled my love for the nineties when I least expected it, as strange as that may seem. Sometimes, all a game needs is a good atmosphere. Once that’s in place, you know you’ve got something special and even though burdened by its flaws, Clandestine manages to shine in areas where it matters the most.