The Swindle: A Steampunk Cybercrime Caper (Xbox One) Review
Timer provides ultimate and ominous end game
RPG skill tree evolves gameplay
Escaping each stage in the rocket pod is super cool and I want one in real life
Some unbalanced areas due to random generation
If you mixed the randomly generated 2D action of Spelunky with stealth and light RPG elements, you would get The Swindle. The goal is to infiltrate banks and steal their money without setting off alarms, evading guards, and not getting zapped or blown up.
Controls are simple enough, there is jump and melee attack, but the gimmick behind this steampunker are the unlockable skills earned by spending the stolen cash. As a quick example, the player will eventually learn a double jump to reach new heights and the ability to cling to walls without sliding by holding the analog stick in the opposite direction. With every successful heist, the player can potential unlock a new ability or a new set a stages to explore. The kicker is, each attempt takes time and the player has a limited number of days to reach the end. Uniquely, if the player dies, all skills and cash remain but at the cost of time. The player magically respawns as a new robber each time too, giving the game a slight humorous tone.
The early stages are in correlation to the player’s available skills. Meaning, guards can only see a short distance in front of them, walk in a predictable pattern, and can be defeated in one attack. However, in time, the player will be exposed to stronger and more difficult enemies and situations, like security cameras and mines. For the most part, the game grows with the player’s unlockable skills. There areas of awkward unbalance, however, such as being able to see an area to explore down below but without a means to get there as bombs have not been unlocked yet. This is confusing and misleading as showing the player an inaccessible area with treasure is a tease and a time waster. Also, there were instances where guards got stuck on parts of the environment due to the random generation of each stage.
Like Spelunky, The Swindle requires both skill and luck to be successful. As difficult as this game is, each death (and there will be a lot of them) is usually the fault of the player. Oh, I should have made a better jump, or I should have waited for that guard to walk away; there is something to be learned by each death. There are some cheap instances, like explosions that have wide and unfair hit detection, but the game usually keeps the player in check. While not the best stealth or randomly generated action game, The Swindle can offer entertainment especially if you are into Roguelikes, speedruns, and stealing cash from houses on Christmas Eve.
Not As Good As: Ninja Five-O (GBA)
Also Try: Rogue Legacy
Wait For It: Mark of the Ninja Remastered