Operator 41 is an Apple Arcade exclusive. I continue to talk about how great of a value Apple Arcade is and having exclusives only adds to that value. Is this an exclusive worth having? Reviewed on an iPhone 13.
I have brought up Operator 41 on our podcast Game Bites as a pleasant surprise. The mechanics were very reminiscent of the scene in The Legend of Zelda The Ocarina of Time when you need to sneak past guards on the castle grounds. Playing that part in Zelda was great, so it would make a fun game, right? Well kinda.
There is not much set up or story to this very brief game. You are a spy who has only some mission, make it to the red telephone in each level. There is no context as to why or what happens once you make it, beyond the level just being over. I like some story to my games, so even a little bit of text to read would have gone a long way for me.
The gameplay is very basic and familiar. The guards you are sneaking past all have vision cones you need to avoid. Stay out of their sight by hiding behind different objects or in tall grass. Nothing new to the formula but it works well. What doesn't work well is the very simple touch controls. The game is basically set up like a grid with each box being one movement. You touch the box you want to move to. I found this to be ok at best and extremely unresponsive at worst.
Adding to the finicky controls are items you can pick up. There are vases you can pick up and throw. You can throw them to distract a guard or throw them at a guard to knock them out. There was really no way of knowing how far you can throw an item, many times I would try to throw it, I would end up moving and being seen.
The game is short and in its current state really does not have any reason to replay the levels. At the time of review there are 15 levels, varying in length and difficulty but you can get through this game from start to finish in well under an hour. The game being short is not a problem for me, I appreciate shorter games. I love being able to feel accomplished in a short amount of time and get back to other responsibilities, but I also like when these shorter experiences draw me back in and make me want to replay it.
Operator 41 is a fun game with a stealth mechanic that works but it struggles from finicky controls and no context to what is going on in the world. This is a great start but sadly it feels like it's far from a finished product. I recommend giving this a shot if you remember that Zelda level fondly, but if that doesn't apply to you, I would wait to see if anything is added to make it a better package.
Final Score 4/10