Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus featured stealth sequences that didn’t always work out. The game’s latest piece of downloadable content, The Diaries of Agent Silent Death, provides the sort of sneaky backstabbing that the main game was missing.
The Diaries of Agent Silent Death tells the story of Jessica Valiant, a former British secret agent hunting down the three Nazi collaborators responsible for the torture and execution of her husband. Her missions take her from a movie set in California to a Nazi moon base. The levels are well-considered playgrounds where the player can sneak around through shadowed side halls, wedge through tiny ventilation systems, and slit Nazi throats before they even know she’s there. Unlike the main game’s clumsy attempts at stealth, which broke down far too easily once the player was spotted, these sections are tailor-made for sneaking.
Valiant has access to the “Secret Agent” ability, which allows her to contort her body and squeeze through tight spaces like windows and vents. It’s an ability lifted from the main game; protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz could acquire a special combat rig that allowed him to perform the same feat. The main game’s levels needed to accommodate numerous different abilities, resulting in levels that felt unfocused. Valiant’s levels only have to account for her ability to slide through vents, and they ebb and flow. Tight office halls open up into large movie sets with deliberate guard patrols, all of it accented by side ventilation systems. Gunfights are rare, and it is entirely possible to sneak in, assassinate a target and escape without anyone noticing.
The original Castle Wolfenstein and its sequel Beyond Castle Wolfenstein emphasized stealth through the use of disguises and tight, maze-like corridors. The Diaries of Agent Silent Death never quite reaches the nail-biting stealth of those titles—it offers a bit too much ammo and supplies for that—but it does go a long way in bringing stealth gameplay to the forefront after The New Colossus’ emphasis on set piece gun battles.
The Diaries of Agent Silent Death’s weaknesses come from a lack of narrative focus more than any gameplay woes. The Freedom Chronicles are meant to be brief, digestible stories of blood and resistance, but Valiant’s story doesn’t amount to much. When the DLC started, it teased stories full of intrigue and world-building, offering fresh perspectives to examine The New Colossus’ Nazi hellscape. Both this DLC and the previous, The Ballad of Gunslinger Joe, squander interesting framing devices in favor of single-minded Nazi killing. That’s always been part of the series’ core identity, but the Freedom Chronicles is starting to seem like a missed opportunity for something thematically richer. It’s satisfying to slink through Nazi lines and assassinate a bone-headed general, but there’s no dismissing the feeling that, despite its satisfying stealth, Valiant’s journey could have been so much more.