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    Volume: An inventive take on espionage

    Stealth games are a rare breed these days. Games like The Last of Us and The Order: 1886 might feature sneaking sequences, but rarely do they revolve entirely around the gameplay mechanic. Mike Bithell, developer of Thomas Was Alone, flies in the face of that standard with a vivid, lively take on the genre.

    The aesthetic is inspired by the polygonal framework of Metal Gear Solid’s VR missions. The gameplay also echoes that titles’ design choices, with bite-sized missions that present players with specific, increasingly challenging tasks.

    The player evades guards while controlling the action from an overhead view. Watching guards’ vision cones while navigating the environment is a crucial skill. The gameplay is spiced up thanks to useful items like ricocheting sound grenades, muted boots, and the distracting “Oddity” (functionally similar to MGS2’s naughty magazines). There are often multiple ways to approach a given stealth puzzle, but the fun comes from finding the most efficient solutions.

    During my brief hands-on time with the game, I grew to appreciate the responsive, dual-analog controls and generous checkpoint system. Stealth games have a reputation for frustrating some players, but Volume seems poised to do for the genre what Super Meat Boy did for hardcore 2D platformers.

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