The chunky polygonal models, the music, even the way the camera pans and orbits around characters in cutscenes—from the moment you boot Never Stop Sneakin’, it’s clear that it is parroting all of Kojima Productions’ cinematic flair. But this isn’t the socio-political epic that Metal Gear Solid was, and neither is it a frighteningly deep stealth-action game.
Never Stop Sneakin’ comes from some pedigree: Humble Hearts, the developer of the fantastic 2D action game Dust: An Elysian Tail. You are an agent of the Department of Sneakin’, on a mission to save time from Amadeus Guildenstern. Guildenstern has kidnapped “all the presidents” as part of his grand plan for world domination, and you have to get them back.
The original Metal Gear Solid was complex enough, and the sequels really pushed the boat out, utilising every input on the DualShocks—including the pressure-sensitive buttons. Never Stop Sneakin’ does the opposite, stripping back the layers of control you have over your character until you’re left with a single stick.
Moving, attacking, interacting—everything is either bound to that one stick or nothing at all. Get close to an enemy and Hummingbird attacks with deft precision; no stopping, no egregious animations—just sheer speed. Similarly, move within an enemy’s line of sight and he reacts in an instant, popping off a shot in a Matrix flurry or dropping a smoke grenade to give you a chance for a melee save. As long as you have the stock of items, you’re essentially invincible. Likewise, interacting with computers and doors just means standing in the marked area until a bar fills up.
The gameplay loop is initially addictive, and the between-mission base development provides a visually satisfying, almost rogue-lite sense of progression. Combined with the bite-size levels, Never Stop Sneakin’ nearly becomes the ideal pick-up-and-play game. Except it’s too simple, and far too easy. It just doesn’t have the variety or encounters to create a truly exciting, properly challenging stealth playground. Instead, it’s like a stained glass window on a mud hut. An exciting and bombastic tutorial segment gives way to a forgettable haze of corridors.
When I think about Metal Gear Solid, I think about the memorable and open action environments, the absurd boss fights and the engaging combat. In my first few hours with Never Stop Sneakin’, I beat the same three boss fights six times, I saw the same level styles over and over again and, ultimately, the individual sneaking sections felt indistinguishable from one another. None of it sticks the way it feels like it’s trying to.
As a throwback to the old era of MGS, this game just fails to capture the feeling of actually playing it. I’m reminded of Mike Bithell’s Volume—a far more successful throwback to the same type of gameplay. Never Stop Sneakin’ has all the same intent with none of the execution.
And beyond the funny but thin narrative, there’s very little impetus to keep playing. Costume unlocks provide some top-level rewards, but moving from level to level feels like a horizontal grind for base resources rather than a genuine progression. It’s a beautifully-presented Metal Gear Solid throwback, but it misses the mark in the truly vital areas. There simply isn’t enough content or variety to justify the £12 price.