I want to make this very clear before I properly start this review: I have put this as "Not Recommended" as it is definitely not
recommended for the average gamer - for most, it will be too frustrating and infuriating to last much longer than an hour. However, if you are a big stealth fan like myself, then you will get some enjoyment out of this game. That enjoyment is limited though, and I'll explain.
If you've played the Hitman series, Death to Spies should instantly remind you of it. You're walking around open areas with multiple paths and disguises are a vital aspect of the gameplay. The difference is that Hitman does it a lot better. The disguise system in this game is a strange beast - you can wear multiple disguises in each level, usually 2 or 3, and usually one will be "better" than the other - as in, there will be less "red" enemies who are able to see through your disguise. The whole thing doesn't really make sense - some enemies, for whatever unexplained reason, know you're a spy. I've completed the game from start to finish and I still don't really get it.
This game is also mercilessly difficult and frustrating. I won't say "challenging" - because that implies you have to think deeply and strategically about what you're actually doing. Most of the time, you'll have quick save and quick load at the ready, doing things in hope rather than guile and seeing if they actually work. The game leaves you very little hints or clues about how to achieve your objectives, which I know some will love as they hate the idea of "hand-holding", but it isn't a black-and-white concept - there is a middle ground where the game can both help you out and you can think for yourself how to solve situations. Other stealth games like Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid get that middle ground, while this unfortunately doesn't. People who dislike stealth games often criticise popular titles in the genre for being trial and error games - and yet, as a stealth fan who's played most games in the genre, I found this overly trial and error based. I don't think I've ever looked at a walkthrough as much as I did on this game as often I was left wondering how I was actually supposed to complete my objectives.
Just to add insult to injury, the game is rife with bugs and glitches. You'll find yourself getting stuck in walls and tiny unexitable areas. You might experience a glitch where the camera is in a completely opposite direction to where your character is moving. Oh yeah, and the music in the intros is incredibly loud, so you've got that to enjoy whenever you launch the game.
One area where Death to Spies does deserve credit is the map design - these maps are unusually large for stealth games and is a great change from dark, linear areas in many stealth games. However, there's nothing to do in these areas - if you want to complete the missions, there's always some linear path that is by far the simplest way to complete the missions. The game makes it far too difficult for you to actually use these open areas so you can complete a mission a different way from someone else.
Despite all these issues, I still had fun with Death to Spies, and other stealth fans will feel the same. Credit has to go to the developers, as you can see they tried - the poor English grammar due to the game being a low-budget Russian title adds to the appeal a little. Unfortunately, the game is just plagued with too many flawed gameplay mechanics to make it enjoyable for the general gaming populace - and it's that which kills it.