I got into this game thanks to my good experience with Counterspy, a game I already reviewed in here. Like that game it lured me with its stealthy gameplay in procedurally bite-sized maps, the cool steampunk aesthetic was only the icing on the cake.
However, I quickly learned that the two games aren’t the same. Here’s what I got from my experience with it.
The swindle is a 2D stealth game in which you’ll get in the boots of a thief (or should I say several ones) as they try to take over a device that will remove thieving from existence. For that, you’ll have commit a bunch of smaller heists during 100 days before that happens.
It’s a simple premise for some simple game, but simple doesn’t equal easy. Every heist you take on will take you a day and the countdown doesn’t stop if you fail. You’ll select a location you want to snaffle and take as much money from there as you can. You just have to know that the security will be tight, and any single mistake could (and would) get you killed, making you lose all the money you might have on your pocket and also lose one more day out of the hundred. That fear from losing everything makes for a great risk/reward system that will make you stand on your toes all the time.
Tons of frustration ensue but also a great sense of accomplishment when you manage to scavenge a map flawlessly.
Like in Counterspy, the maps are generated procedurally which makes for great replayability. Unfortunately, like in Counterspy, that results in long loadtimes (though not as long in this case) and also, the maps sometimes arrange in a way that might be completely impossible to beat.
Apart from the platforming stealth the game also has some rpg mechanics. With the money you succesfully steal you can buy some “advantages” that will give you a sense of progression. Like bombs and other gadgets to make your thief life easier, hacking skills or physical ones like the double jump and also to unlock the different locations. You won’t lose those if your thief dies during a heist, they will get inherited by the next one instead.
Visually this game has a great aesthetic. The robot designs in display are very original and the different locations are all well realised and help you immerse in this steampunk world.
Things I liked
- Intense gameplay: Like in Dark Souls, you’ll die in this game and sometimes it’ll make you rage but in the end the swindle will also make you feel great when you manage to beat a hard level. It has that risk/reward system that will make you think, should I turn my back and save what I already got or dwell deeper into the level and see how much more I can get?
- Infinite replayability: Having the levels build procedurally means you can play this game forever and since the game is also well designed to be played in short burst, you can have this game installed in your system forever.
- Cool setting: That steampunk london not only it does bring you a great aesthetic to look at but it also makes for great inventions like the gadgets you use or the way the robot guards work. It’s pretty neat stuff.
Things I didn’t
- Sometimes unfair: Having randomly generated levels brings a lot of great things but also some shortcomings like having some levels feel impossible. As in putting a ridiculous amounts of guards in a tiny room, having a safe appear in a room without any entrance… That wouldn’t be so annoying if you could just hit a button and restart in a different scenario but thanks to the roguelike elements of The Swindle, every impossible map means a heist day lost.
Who’d like this?
The Swindle is incredibly fun and it can be played in short bursts. If you’re into stealth games and are you’re looking for a challenge you might want to take a look at this.
If you get easily frustrated you might want to look away though.
<This review is based on the Vita version of the game but it’s also available on ps3, ps4 (which you’ll get access to anyway thanks to being crossbuy-able) and pretty much any other platform>