The last simulator game I’ve played was Surgeon Simulator and that was back in 2014, my freshman year of high school. While it didn’t make me into a surgeon or make me want to pursue the profession, me and my 14-year-old self-had a blast playing it and messing around with the game mechanics. Ever since then I always had a fascination with the genre. The only problem that I faced was that most of the simulation games being released after were being associated with VR which I don’t own and the ones that were on console couldn’t fulfil that same level of enjoyment that Surgeon Simulator could. Once I saw the chance to review Thief Simulator, I had to take a stab at it and couldn’t let the opportunity slip by. Did it live up to my high expectations and does it bring out the 14-year-old me and make me feel like a kid again? Let’s find out together.
The really isn’t any plot to the game, which is understandable due to it being a sim game. You’re an unnamed protagonist who was recently bailed out of jail by a mob called the Lombardi’s and now you’re indebted to them. Your repayment; robbing houses for them and doing scores. You also have a friend/informant named Vinny who you communicate with over the phone as he gives you tips and advice on houses for you to rob and guides you through the process. That’s the summary of the plot. It’s not disappointing to me because as I stated it’s a sim game. You play for the gameplay and the mechanics. Speaking of which let’s see how that went.
Starting out the game you’re put in front of an empty house and introduced to the basic mechanics of the game. You learn how to sneak, use your inventory and flashlight, and how to equip your crowbar, your main and only “weapon” through the entirety of the game. After you finish the tutorial mission, you’re introduced to even more mechanics of the game which enhances your thieving experience. You have a skill tree in which you can upgrade after you gain enough XP after doing each job. In this skill tree, you can upgrade your lockpicking skill which allows you to lockpick higher-level locks, noise detection level which reduces the amount of noise that you can make, your sneaking speed, etc.
There’s a certain rhythm or flow with the game as well and works like this. Before you go to a job you go to your computer, find the house you’re going to rob, buy little tips and hints on the said house, go to the house and rob it, sell all the items to the pawnshop, rinse and repeat all over again. There is some challenge to the game, however. Having to stealthily make your way through the house and to avoid being detected by the homeowners or a pedestrian on the street is a challenge within itself and also running from the police when you get detected, which happens more often than you think. Honestly the first couple of times I enjoyed myself and found myself either getting frustrated or screaming at my TV every time I was almost – or was actually- caught, and enjoyed stealthily roaming houses living the life of a thief. Sadly, after a while, it gets kind of stale. Some of the houses are similar for the most part layout wise but besides that, the only redeeming quality coming from them is the items to steal.
If graphics are the main thing that you look for in a simulation game, then you might want to look elsewhere for that. It’s very bland and basic and most of the time it looks like the game hasn’t fully rendered its textures, even when it has. All the houses look the same, so you have to rely on your map to find which house you are assigned to rob. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve robbed the wrong house. I feel as though the graphics weren’t a main focus or priority in this game, which I can understand due to it being a sim game.
Audio is very very important in this game. You need to listen to every tiny sound in this game. From footsteps to the sounds coming from outside all can affect how you go through and perform your job. They all are intertwined with your gameplay experience. If you have headphones that play game audio you might want to use them – they help out a ton.
The game itself is somewhat lengthy and has a somewhat moderately low replay value. You can go back to challenges to steal some rare high-end items that you may have left behind for some quick cash or you may not have had a high enough lockpicking skill to open a safe. If you like collecting achievements that this is a game for you. Most of them are fairly easy to unlock as you progress through the game. The only thing that you would have to worry about is just burning yourself out as you essentially do the same process of robbing a house over and over again.
Does Thief Simulator succeed in bringing out my younger self and bring back that same joy and excitement that I felt five years ago? No, no it does not. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy myself though. What it lacks graphics-wise and in replay value it makes up with its game mechanics. Who doesn’t want to rob houses and pretend to be a thief in the night?