I love doing crimes. Not in real life, of course, but in video games where there’s no risk of me having to spend life in prison for doing so. I’ve committed many sins over the years in the likes of Grand Theft Auto, The Elder Scrolls, Payday, and Night in the Woods (it counts!), with each game giving me the chance to show off my criminal side. Thief Simulator though? Well, it takes it to the next level.
Thief Simulator puts you in the role of a burglar (who’s aptly known as The Thief) and gives you the task of doing what he does best: robbing houses. It’s all about breaking into properties, avoiding their occupants or security systems, grabbing all the loot you can, and getting out of there unseen. You have a bunch of different tools at your disposal that can be improved upon as you progress, whilst you’ll also see yourself working up to bigger and better locations as you go on. Whilst you might be using a crowbar to smash windows Gordon Freeman-style early on, after just a couple of hours play you’ll be picking locks and cutting through window panes fuss-free.
It all starts off simple enough, but as you work through the game and take on more valuable targets you’ll find that you’ve got to work a little harder. It might mean observing properties carefully beforehand, planting cameras to figure out the owner’s routines, figuring out where the best loot is, judging if you should break in at daytime or night time, scoping out their security system – alternatively, you can just pay to get some intel, but where’s the thrill in that? Either way, there’s a whole lot to think about and it shows that there’s a fair bit of depth to Thief Simulator outside of just breaking and entering.
It is each properties occupants that’ll cause you the most problems though, and you’ve only got to be seen in the wrong place (or carrying their new expensive TV) in order for them to raise the alarm. Each one has their own little life and routine to follow, so you’ll have to figure out when they’ll be sleeping or when they’ll be lounging around and chilling outside – it all boils down to preparation and picking your moment to strike.
Fortunately, you can track their movements if they’re close by so you can prepare yourself if they’re about to enter a room you’re in, though the fact that their AI isn’t particularly clever can take the thrill away a bit. They’re very predictable in design and aren’t always too observant to your presence, so as long as you don’t do anything stupid you should be able to evade them with minimum fuss.
Of course, there’ll still be times when you do get caught and end up with the police on your tail. These should’ve been some of the more exciting moments of Thief Simulator but I actually found they fell flat – hiding away just felt boring, whilst escaping in a car was just naff. There’s a real lack of tension to these moments and the game never made me feel like I was on a desperate run to get away. It just doesn’t manage to match up to the excitement of actually robbing a house.
As you burgle more properties and grab more loot, you’ll earn the cash and experience points to improve your skills and tools. Some of these skills are simple things such as identifying which items in a house are best to steal, but being able to make it easier to climb obstacles or hide more efficiently can be a life saver in some of the trickier properties. They change the game up a bit too and add a little more variety, though it is guilty of being a bit repetitive at times. I mean, you are spending most of your time doing a lot of the same things after all, and it becomes more apparent after a few hours play. Still, I can see myself coming back to the game for a quick burglary here and there in the future, especially on the Nintendo Switch where it’s easy enough to pick up and play on the go.
Performance-wise, Thief Simulator is adequate; it’s not the prettiest of games you’ll play but it doesn’t need to be, whilst the frame rate is generally consistent enough to ensure the game remains enjoyable. Sure, it can stutter at times, but it never hits any low points where you’ll be left frustrated or unable to play the game.
Developer: Noble Muffins
Publisher: Forever Entertainment
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC