Metal Gear Solid is a beloved PS1 stealth game classic starring the seriously cool, bandana-wearing super spy, Solid Snake. But Snake is actually a man. (Well a clone of another man, but let’s not get into that now.) In the newly released indie game Covert Critter, the developers offer a different take on MGS, where its main character is an actual animal—a gecko to be precise. And it’s surprisingly good considering the whole thing was made in under two weeks.
Released yesterday, Covert Critter doesn’t try to hide its inspiration, which is 1998’s original Metal Gear Solid for PlayStation. Everything about the game—from its visuals to its camera angles, codec-style chats, controls, and cutscenes—is directly inspired by Hideo Kojima’s classic stealth ‘em up. But Covert Critter’s two developers took care to not just recreate the feel and look of the original game, but to put their own spin on it.
One of the biggest differences is very obvious from the moment you see its opening cutscene: You play as Koss, an anthropomorphic gecko spy, complete with cool gear and a smoking cigarette. Koss is tasked with infiltrating a facility that his people once controlled, but which is now held by a group of “red hawk” terrorists. They’re trying to take control of the facility’s nukes and it’s up to Koss to sneak his way through the eight levels that make up the place to reach the nukes and save the world.
Lucky you: Because Koss is a lizard he can actually blend in with walls, allowing you to quickly hide if spotted by an enemy guard.
The other big change to the classic MGS formula is that in Covert Critter, Koss can’t attack enemies. This is a true stealth mission. While you can lay down banana peels to temporarily stun baddies who walk in the wrong place, you can’t just pull out a silenced pistol and eliminate all your problems. This forces you to be more careful during enemy encounters and it also means that just one guard can be quite a challenge to get by.
Most players will be able to play through all of Covert Critter in less than an hour, though more skilled stealth players can probably finish it in under 30 minutes.
According to the game’s website, the entire thing was built in just 12 days by two people—sodaraptor and NormalHumanSixx—as part of a game jam. You can download the finished product on itch.io for free.