Crime, as we don’t know is about to become extinct, unless you and a gang of curiously random named Victorian thieves can do what they do best. Embarking on a crime caper of an epic scale to accumulate enough skills and coin for what could be your final heist.
The Swindle is a procedurally generated stealth 2D platformer from the creator of Time Gentlemen, Please! Set in a steampunk detailed London. You have 100 Days to accumulate enough wealth to execute a raid on Scotland Yard, before they engage a state of the art surveillance system called The Devil’s Basilisk which will instantly eradicate all crime at every level.
You start on day 100 in the slums, with little more than a small bat and just enough skill to open a door, from here your sole objective is to earn the ton required to unlock the hacking skill.
Each day starts with you breaking into a building anyway you can, fill your bag with swag and leave silently like the stealthy swindler that you are. This rarely goes to plan though. To start the enemies are security guards and cameras, each with a limited field of view and are fairly predictable, if they spot you the game is up along with the blood pressure, the steampunk styled soundtrack ramps up and the building & occupants are set on high alert. The enemies you face are either deadly stupid or stupidly deadly, whacking a Mutton shunter whilst another is patrolling the same room doesn’t raise suspicion, but one false move and the cops are called and it’s now a race against time to escape the building back outside to your escape pod and to count your coins from the safety of your airship.
The randomly generated levels both help and hinder in equal measure, it ensures that neither day will ever play out exactly the same, marking the most of the randomness will be more down to your upgrades and player skills rather than problem solving and learning routes. Problems arise however when the main loot is impossible to obtain as it is unreachable, certainly in the early days. The sky high upgrade costs gives you little to no opportunity to pick up more than scraps of cash that are left lying around.
Equally of annoyance, one slight wrong move will end your day in complete failure, steamrolled by a rolling Robocop or falling from a height that was just slightly too high. More often than not this starts a run of failures as you helplessly watch your deadline date loom. This chase feels akin to gambling, as you then become your worst enemy, pursuing your previous failures in a bid to break even.
Once you’ve obtained the hacking skill you can start to work on the more lucrative task of hacking the analogue computers. This is where your cash figure satisfyingly increases to £££’s, but it’s all relative as your next upgrades now demands a bag load of cash to unlock. After a few successful robberies it’s time to move on-wards to the Warehouse District, where the awards are increased along with the security which defends them.
There is enough skill trees available to make you think about your next step, whether it be the ability to double jump, hack front doors or drop timed explosives to remove some of those unobtainable rooms. The cost of these increases massively at each stage, so you always feel the benefit a skill provides, it is a big effort on your part to level up your character, but well worth the investment.
The graphics of the Swindle does suit the style it’s meant to portray, it’s never going to be ground-breaking or pushing the PS4’s capabilities so I wonder if it would be more suited to a PS Vita. The controls seem tight enough but my worry there is the small screen size may make the errors of judgment increase triple fold either by falling off the side of the building, setting off one of the camera’s or falling foul to the mines.
The final mission unlock requires £400k of your well hard earned cash, and will also require every skill you’ve acquired to get here, time to see if you’ve got them minerals.
Currently priced at £11.99 I would recommend this title for the randomly generated levels and challenge it provides. The random glitches, the sometimes impossible to win buildings and the mid-range graphics won’t make your game of the year list, but there is enough entertainment here to warrant the price tag.
Winning and sometimes losing a day makes you want to play again
Complex skill tree with varied unlockables
Awesome steampunk themed soundtrack.
Some random Glitches
Graphics suit the style but are nothing special
Procedurally generated maps can be impossible to cash in