Master Spy is a stealth-based pin-point precision platformer where you take the role of the mysterious ‘Master Spy’ in a job to retrieve top-secret documents for an interested third party. Before playing the game I was a fairly stress-free individual – but after no more than an hour the torturous difficulty of Master Spy had me in need of a rest to calm my nerves before continuing to sporadically jump out and around wandering guards’ field of vision.

The immediate retro-impression Master Spy gives with it’s pixel graphics is coupled with minimal but modernized 80s inspired soundtrack, making it difficult to not draw comparisons to Hotline Miami. Although similar, Master Spy doesn’t so much copy the tone of Hotline, rather it draws from the same pool of inspiration to create a product almost entirely mirrored from it’s creative predecessor – replacing excessive gore and the gameplay requirement of killing with the demand of totally avoiding being seen. In Master Spy, your aim is to neither be seen or heard as you hop around borderline-impenetrable security systems to break into the base of a nefarious corporation to retrieve top-secret documents. Once seen, it’s game over – meaning you need to start again from the last checkpoint.

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Gameplay-wise, Master Spy doesn’t immediately assault the player with brain-melting challenge, rather it subtly bends the difficulty curve by slowly and appropriately introducing more and more enemy and obstacle varieties. Master Spy dumps the player into the world without any real introduction in regards to the incredibly basic controls or how to deal with certain enemies, which compliments it’s decisive minimal tone. Where the complexity of gameplay lacks, the smoothness of the playing experience excels – the very few controls required are incredibly responsive and make the latter more difficult experiences a lot smoother to gradually tow through.

The plot is interchangeable with that found in any dramatic 80s spy-thriller, which is thematically appropriate when paralleled with the graphics and soundtrack. Although not the main event of the game, the plot definitely compliments the final product as an unapologetic homage to spy films from yesteryear, reminiscent of The Hunt for Red October. The soundtrack, although well orchestrated, is limited – and thus repetitive. While playing through one of the earlier levels, I found what I initially thought to be a catchy beat turn into a nuisance. While dying continuously I expected a more diverse soundtrack to encourage me through the level without rapidly accelerating my frustration.

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However, as fun as I found Master Spy, it brought nothing new to the table. The platforming gameplay – although strongly functional – is not as extensive as that found in games such as They Bleed Pixels, and the general aesthetic feels borrowed from Hotline Miami. I highly recommend this game to all those who enjoyed Hotline and/or want something new to challenge their platforming ability, however as an original product I found Master Spy somewhat lacking.