I posted this over at indygamer blogspot a few days ago when I first came across it; at that stage I hadn’t played very much of it so there wasn’t a lot I could say about it. I’ve since finished it.
Before I say a thing about this game, I really must say something about its creator. Chances are most people reading this have already heard of Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw; he’s created more polished, complete games than most people have walkabout demos, his Chzo Mythos quadrilogy made the fifty really good indie games feature here as an example of indie gaming’s finest, and of course, he’s the author of Zero Punctuation – The best thing ever to hit game reviewing, in my opinion. It’s clever, it’s original, and above all, it’s bloody funny. He reviews Peggle and compares Popcap to the evil team in an 80s sports movie, he rants irrelevantly about American foreign policy for half his Medal of Honour review, he gets his viewers to cripple themselves as punishment for not buying Psychonauts en masse – what a legend!
Although expectations are pretty high when a guy with that kinda track record releases a new game, I’m sure it’ll be no surprise for anyone here to learn that The Art of Theft doesn’t disappoint. It’s excellent.
The concept is great: two years before Five Days a Stranger, Trilby is an aspiring cat-burglar in Chapow City. The Art of Theft deals with the story of his daring heists and how he made his name. Although the writing’s excellent, the focus is on gameplay – it’s a stealth platformer (not a combination you see very often) which demands patience and impeccable timing to get ahead.
I should warn you that the game has some serious flaws though – the difficulty curve ramps up too fast, save points are too infrequent leading to frustrating repetition when you inevitably lose a mission and have to start again, and then there are a few little things: like cutting wires, which is an unwelcome game of chance in an otherwise entirely skill driven game.
But hey, I wouldn’t have written all this if I didn’t absolutely love it regardless! What we have here is one of the most original, well designed and addictive games released this year. Hardly a single room goes by that doesn’t show off some little moment of brilliant creativity; usually a well written note or nifty construct of some sort. It really is superb.
I was going to put this at the top, but it’s a bit spoilerish so I’ll put it here instead: Want to see the game in action? Here’s a video of me making the first level look easy:
You can download it here, on The Escapist.