I love a good puzzle game – so my expectations coming into the review are quite high. Tiny Thief already has a good reputation and achieved critical acclaim. It’s now also free to play (with a new episode available to purchase), making it even more appealing. Am I going to be disappointed?
A Familiar Beginning
Tiny Thief isn’t exactly original when it comes to story. At the start it’s similar to playing a young Robin Hood who goes around stealing valuable objects from medieval villains. Then there’s the common mobile trope of rewarding you up to three stars for completing a level, depending on how many objectives you managed to meet.
So that’s not off to the greatest start – I’m not a fan of overdone trends, and the stars reward for completing stages is certainly one that falls into that category. It’s the mobile equivalent of achievements – something that gets far too much developer attention at the expense of actual gameplay.
Thankfully, Tiny Thief does look to stand out from the pack in a couple of ways. Firstly, the only requirement to move on to the next level is to get the primary objective (achieving one star), and the setting does move from standard medieval to a more fantastic universe that includes dragons, knights and even pirates.
In another positive spin on traditional mobile development, achieving the third star is not about finishing a level in a certain time or collecting 100 percent of coins or coin-like objects. Instead, the third star is awarded for finding and collecting the secret item that’s hidden in each level. Sometimes, they’re dead easy to find. At other times, I couldn’t find them without cheating and looking up a guide on the Internet. Continue Reading
Release Date: 02/04/2014
Available on: iOS, Android
Tiny Thief has a Big Strength
The most appealing aspect of this game is the combination of stealth and puzzles. This is without doubt the best thing Tiny Thief has going for it. Each level requires planning, each level requires calculated movements and real, actual thinking in order to meet the various objectives. Sometimes it’s incredibly hard to find your pet ferret (the requirement for reaching two stars in each stage), sometimes just completing the level in the first place is hard enough.
Often you’ll have to make you way to a specific object in order to cut a rope or smash open a container – and object that’s often guarded or locked up itself. Gaining access to the object may include diverting the guard’s attention or setting of a physics based reaction. There are hiding places to avoid patrolling enemies and the slow movement of your character means that you’ll have to combine quick thinking with well-timed finger tapping.
The other major strength that Tiny Thief has is its presentation. It’s a beautiful, charming little game. While it does have that typical mobile look, the animations are brilliant and really set the game apart. This is high quality work and demonstrative of a massive amount of love being poured into a project.
Its Biggest Strength is also a Weakness
I mentioned before that characters move slowly. While this encourages methodical gameplay and careful planning, it also becomes a little irritating the more time you spend with the game. There’s no doubt that at times you’ll wish your own character could move a little quicker, or a patrolling enemy would get their rear end in gear so you can get past them.
This is especially true if you’re repeating levels a couple of times, and it actually did make me put my tablet down a couple of times – I’d rather do something else than sit and wait for the game to move along at its slow pace after messing up a level.
Perhaps an option to increase game speed would be a useful addition. I certainly believe it would remove the mental barrier standing between me and picking the game back up again.
One final little niggle – there’s not much to write home about when it comes to sound in Tiny Thief. Neither the music nor the sound effects are particularly good. They’re OK, just nothing that really add to the experience, which is unusual for a game that started out in the middle tier of premium mobile games.
I like Tiny Thief. Now that it’s free, anyone who likes puzzle games should give it a shot. It demands that you be patient with it and it’s certainly a little slow at times, but it’s still an engrossing experience in the first play through, and it left me tempted to purchase the new adventure – although that’s something I’m still mulling over. What is certain is that Tiny Thief is big on charm.