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New Steam game is hardcore stealth Hotline Miami, with a free demo

Intravenous 2 is a top-down realistic stealth game with in-depth mechanics and tactics, and its prologue is out now as a free Steam game.

Intravenous 2 Mercenarism is a free demo for the upcoming tactical stealth shooter, blending Hotline Miami, Escape From Tarkov, and Metal Gear - Pixel art of a man in a purple shirt with a moustache.

Hotline Miami is one of the least stealthy games I’ve ever played. Wearing a rubber animal mask, you kick down doors and blast your way through buildings in a bloody whirlwind of destruction. But it makes me wonder what a more sneaky approach to that format might look like – perhaps somewhat of a modern take on the original Metal Gear games (the pre-Solid, MSX ones). If you’ve had similar thoughts, Intravenous 2 is worth a look – and with its prologue out now as a free Steam game, you can give it a try without having to pay a thing.

Intravenous 2 is the upcoming sequel to the 2021 stealth game from developer Explosive Squat Games and publisher HypeTrain Digital. Taking that top-down, room-by-room perspective of Hotline Miami but with a much more tactical, stealth-driven approach to its violence, you’re put in the shoes of “cold-hearted mercenary” Gideon. While its setup might be just as glibly brutal as that of Hotline Miami, however, Intravenous 2 requires a vastly different approach.

Before setting out on a mission, you’ll have to kit yourself out with weapons, gadgets, and gear – each of which has a rather deep set of stats associated with them. That’s because this is a stealth game where every element matters – visibility, sound, and more. You can adjust Gideon’s movement speed with the scroll wheel, but the faster you move, and the heavier the equipment you’re carrying, the more noise you’ll make.

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You’ll likely want to pick your moment and take out patrolling guards carefully then, depositing their bodies into dumpsters Hitman-style to ensure they aren’t spotted. Bring the right equipment to lockpick a door, and you’ll save yourself the risk of being heard breaking it open. Or, perhaps, meddle with the fuse box around the side instead and draw a guard out to fix the problem, allowing you to either deal with them directly or sneak through in the darkness.

From my initial time spent playing free prologue Intravenous 2: Mercenarism, my conclusion is that I’m absolutely awful at it. I was constantly slipping loose of the shadows, or dropping my guns on the floor as I wrapped my head around its granular, in-depth controls. But I found myself compelled to improve, and watching footage of more practiced players shows the game’s tactical potential, almost feeling at times like watching a 2D Escape From Tarkov.

Intravenous 2 is set to release in 2024. Or, if you’re curious for more after playing the prologue, the first game is 60% off until Friday, February 2 – expect to pay $7.99 / £6.70 for your copy.

Alternatively, have a look through more of the best indie games in 2024, or put the thoughts of conflict out of your head altogether with some of the best relaxing games.

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