The Swindle – Review
Follow Genre: platforming, action
Developer: Size Five Games, Curve Digital
Publisher: Size Five Games, Curve Digital
Platform: PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Wii U, PC, Mac, PS Vita
Tested on: Switch

The Swindle – Review

Site Score
6.5
Good: good story and fun mechanics
Bad: controls don’t work that well, game breaking bugs
User Score
7.3
(3 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.3/10 (3 votes cast)

Swindling has been an ancient way to making money, too bad that this not so kosher way of earning cash is still happening to this day. As this game is set in a mix of older and modern times it makes for a unique experience. The Swindle takes places in a steampunk environment of 19th century London in which a thief must score big before a machine stops all crime from happening.

Story

It is the year 1849, the government has developed a master A.I. that will put a halt on thievery and burglary. You as a master swindler have 100 days to get enough funds together so you can get the clearance to Scotland Yard, where ‘The Devils Basilisk’ is stored. The first criminal to start this plan is Henry Beresford, but there’s a small chance he will make it into the history books. Lucky his work will not be wasted when he passes away, since there is a large group of thieves waiting to follow in his footsteps. This is basically as far as the story goes, it just begins with you working your way through the clearance levels of the city but there is no real backstory to it. You will simply have to work with the premise of that only after finally getting your hands on The Devils Basilisk that your thief will finally retire. Next to short information about the current district this is how the flow of the story goes. Just a strong beginning to get you started and an ending that might feel a bit weak.

Graphics

The Swindle is a game that really gets the mood going as its hand-drawn graphical style mixes in a cartoonish feeling combined with the essentials of steampunk. The scenery is dark with brown and yellow colors richly presented. The game is good in is capturing that classic London scenery in a steampunk modern era. There are robots, there are neon signs, but many things feel like they are periodical correct. Furthermore there is this panicky feel in some actions that generate stress such as hacking that goes wrong, portraying that it is essential to not miss a beat because you may get spotted or die because of it.

Sound

Just like the graphics the sound is a great way to let the player know what is going on. When you are undetected this typical cartoon thief music plays, making the whole ordeal feel like you are watching a show going on. While doing certain actions these movements are followed up by clear sound effects that mark the current situation. For example: while hacking you can hear keystrokes and bleeps coming from the computer, but when the hack is halted a harsh crash sound is heard notifying the player that immediate action is required.

Gameplay

The Swindle is a platformer game that takes a roguelike setting combining this with a RPG model. It is hard to place it in certain genres since it is a Jack of all trades. The game starts with master swindler Henry Beresford and his legion of thieves that are planning the biggest heist ever. In the olden days where there wasn’t that much surveillance, these were the golden days for criminals since most of the times they got away scot-free. Thanks to modernization this brought upon a new stumbling stone to the burglars. Division of security in Scotland Yard has created ‘The Devils Basilisk’ that will put an end to thievery for once and for all. This A.I. will have full surveillance over the whole of England, stopping the plans of Henry to become rich, dead in its tracks. To clarify the genre of this title you have two main elements. First is the platforming action of getting around the venues unseen and negating a wide range of traps. Otherwise there is the RPG element of building your character with better perks that stay after death.

These consists of new and improved abilities for faster action and more accessibility towards hacks, different tools, the ability to double jump or save yourself from fall damage. Sadly there is nowhere to find any sort of protection from hostiles and this would have been handy in case of emergency. If you get touched by an enemy this means immediate death and for some this can be highly frustrating. It is perfectly understandable that a large robot can take you out with one shot or one knock to the noggin. But some robots look like toys, or do nothing, yet some can kill you after they died. It is not sure that it is a gameplay mechanic or an annoying bug since there is no real background information about the types of enemies.

Each day counts towards the end, the timer starts at 100 and each heist will take a day. At first this doesn’t seem like a true issue until the difficulty spikes up. As earlier mentioned you die quite easily and after being stuck for a while this can mean the end of your run. Practice does make perfect and after some training you will learn the way enemies behave and how to plan accordingly. There are however some game breaking bugs that will cause immense frustration with the combination of these strict mechanics. Some windows are blocked off, meaning nothing can see or get through, yet sometimes the field of view glitches and bots can look through these and also through doors. Randomly generated levels mean a fresh adventure each time but can also mean that some stages are a waste of time. Traps can be placed so random that they block the only available entry way and unless you pack more explosives than the American army you won’t stand a chance.

As we all know in a platforming game, it is of the essence that the controls are tight and respond well. Most of the times having control of your character is like throwing a wet sandwich in a storm. In any other game you feel like you are in full sync with the character on-screen, but in The Swindle most of the times you are either stuck getting past a hard platforming puzzle (that can be made easier with expensive ability upgrades) or correcting all the time so you don’t end up on the wrong side of a security bot.

Conclusion

The Swindle is a cool concept altogether mixing steampunk art en music to a story where you can be a real thief. While the idea is cool of having a roguelike game where everything is randomly generated there are so many imperfections to actually hurts the mechanics and gameplay badly. The player is on a strict timetable in order to complete the story, yet due to unresponsive controls and many bugs that are still present, means that you good run can be ruined in a matter of minutes.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.3/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
The Swindle – Review, 7.3 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
MC_JP
MC_JP


Never give up on a dream. It might be a long nightmare, but one day it will change into a beautiful reality - MC_JP 2014

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