Prepare for the heist that would make the Professor or Daniel Ocean (from Ocean’s Eleven, if you don’t remember) proud! Developed by the Polish studio Noble Muffins and published by PlayWay, Thief Simulator, as the name implies, is a theft simulator where you will subtract valuable from the houses of innocents of the city.
Available for PCs since Nov’2018 and now available on Xbox One, Thief Simulator is a free-roaming stealthy adventure where you will accomplish (or at least attempt to) increasingly difficult robberies. You will start with small items like pans and vases but soon will be stealing electronics, paintings, braking safes and taking cars away. I hope you have a big backpack ready because we have a lot of stuff for you in this review.
What we liked!
- Interesting gameplay: The mechanics of Thief Simulator are by far its most interesting aspect. Planning a heist consists of studying how to enter a house without been noticed by its inhabitants, understanding their routine and selecting the best equipment to reach their most valuable possessions. Sometimes you will need to improvise like… let’s say… when the owner of the house comes back before you were expecting. If that happens, your heist goes down the toilet: find the nearest wardrobe to hide in or jump through the closest window and keep your fingers crossed so he or she won’t notice the missing objects before you get out of there!
- The black-market: You can sell the products of your hard-earned spoils in pawnshops, junkyards (in later levels, you will be able to steal cars too) or in online stores – the Black bay. There you can also buy tools and equipment to commit the boldest thefts this city has yet to see!
- RPG elements: Thief simulator has some light RPG elements in its gameplay. Every time you go back to your hideout, you receive experience points for completing the task and depending on what kind of spoil you brought and a grade according to your performance. Remember that the better your performance, the higher will be your grade. With these experience points, you can level up and learn new skills and abilities (like carrying more weight in your backpack, disarm electronic security devices and much more) that will allow you to rob more sophisticated houses. I nice touch, if I may say.
- Visuals: The visuals of houses (both outside and their interiors) and items you interact with are good, but the overall visuals of the city aren’t all that impressive. NPCs animations are very simple (you will usually find them sitting on a chair, looking throw the window or laying on a bed and when they see you, they will squat or run from you). The textures are simple and I constantly visual glitches. The clipping effect and drawn distance are very noticeable, decreasing your immersion. Nevertheless, the visuals of the game will do the trick.
- Audio: Yes, the music is present in Thief Simulator in very specific moments. Your gameplay will be mostly silent and sneaky. The sound effects are timid – because most of the time you will be only walking slowly and opening doors or windows with all the care in the world not to be heard by the residents.
- Minigames: To invade a house, you will need to crack its door lock. To open a safe, you will need to discover its secret. To sell stolen jewelry, you will need to disassemble it first. And all these actions are done through small minigames where you can succeed and get or loot or not. Sometimes when you fail, your tool will break and you will need to acquire a new one. The idea is good, but after some time breaking in houses, you will get tired of this repetitive minigames.
What we disliked
- Loooooong loadings: The initial loading takes like forever to start the game. The transition between your hideout, the pawnshop or junkyard (where you will sell hardly acquired merchandise) and the residential areas don’t take all that long to load, but this initial load will take at least a couple minutes. Something that will make even the most tolerant of gamers irritated.
- Managing your inventory: You have a very limited inventory to carry your tools and the stolen goodies. You can always use your vehicle to store the product of your robbery too, allowing you to carry more products from a single heist. The problem resides in the fact that what you store in your car while in one of the neighborhoods won’t be available when you get back to your hideout, the pawnshop or the junkyard. And the contrary is also true. So it doesn’t help to store your tools in the car while in the hideout, take all of them with you to examine the place you’re about to break in and, later, take only the tools you will need. No. It seems to be a bug that makes your car inventory unique in each place you visit instead of making it more realistic and useful.
- Disappearing items: If you take some time to read comments on the Xbox Live store or the Facebook page of the developers, you’ll be surprised by how many bugs you will face in this game. One of the most annoying issues I had to deal with were items that disappeared after picking them up. And you can’t imagine how not-happy I was after a successful heist went wrong because the TV or painting I was carrying disappeared when placed on the floor to open the trunk of my car. And when I had problems taking items from my hideout to the pawnshop simply because they decided to vanish when placing them in my car. Maybe I’m using a car that belonged to a magician to do this job. Who knows?
- Problematic collision detection: Another irritating issue I’ve faced is the collision detection. Being more specific, I was peeved with how hard it is to exit a window with a huge electronic or painting. Since your character cannot exit through a window carrying a big object, sometimes you will need to ‘throw’ it through the window, exit it and then pick the object up later. BUT IT’S INEXPLICABLE HARD TO THROW IT THROUGH THE WINDOW! C’mon, why it’s so difficult to drop an item outside the house? I’ve already seen an LCD TV being thrown over a fence when I was trying to drop it outside the window. On some occasions, I could see inside (or outside) a house when looking in a corner. I’ve already seen NPCs arms and legs appearing through doors. All these issues show the collision detection physics in this game hasn’t had all the attention needed, unfortunately.
- Problems with AI: The AI of the inhabitants of the city is ok. People walking on the streets can get suspicious if they see you hiding or acting strangely on the streets and can call the police. If you make some noise when invading or stealing things from a house, its residents will get suspicious and will investigate the origin of the noise. If they notice a door or window open (even a front gate), they will call the cops. If they notice something is missing, they will immediately call 911. All these behaviors grant more naturality to the people in these streets. What is somehow annoying is the superpowers they have: sometimes, they can see you from very far away, from behind walls and in complete darkness. Maybe they all wear night-vision goggles and I haven’t noticed it. Thankfully the cops aren’t all that smart: they are fast and will show up quickly when you are detected, but you can hide in trash bins and wardrobes until they go away – just be sure nobody saw you hiding or they will use their strange tasers to knock you down.
An interesting idea that didn’t live to its expectations. That’s how I felt about Thief Simulator at the end of the day. The premises are good, but their execution leaves a lot to be desired. I don’t know why, but it seems to be a huge difference from the PC version of this game to its Xbox version. Maybe some more time in the over would have done wonders for this title. As it is at the moment I finished my review, it’s only recommendable for players who already have a crush for stealth games – and only in small doses or you will be tired of this game quickly.
With a history of gaming that goes from his old man’s Atari 2600 to his Xbox One, Rafael or RAF687, our Brazilian editor, has a love for games as old as he can remember. He has already spent countless hours in many consoles (Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2 and Xbox 360) and is always ready for more (as long as his wife is asleep). Raf has been writing for LifeisXbox since 2017, with a passion for games of almost all genres – though we know he has a special place in his heart for RPGs, racing games and anything that includes pixel art. Writing about games has always been a childhood dream to Raf, dream that he has fulfilled reviewing games for you here. You can drop him a message at Twitter, Facebook or Xbox Live at any time.