Playing as a thief isn’t exactly a novel concept—especially when you look at the amount of games that involve sneaking around that have come out in just the past year or two. Add in the fact that every other game in the App Store today uses Rovio’s tired three-star stage completion format and you might pass over Tiny Thief without blinking an eye. But you really shouldn’t—you’d be passing up not only one of the cutest iOS games of the year, but also a thoroughly entertaining point-and-click adventure game.
Tiny Thief doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but when your game has the charm and personality of a Pixar film, it hardly matters. You play as a kid thief who—along with his pet ferret—make it through each stage by sneaking past guards and snatching things along the way. In one stage you’ll be setting free an oppressed little piggy. In another you’ll be helping the villagers overthrow the bullying town sheriff. It’s all done in gloriously smooth animation and beautiful hand-crafted art. Despite the game being broken up into individual stages, the game is also broken up into chapters so that you are often working toward a single goal or following a small storyline (or a bigger one, towards the end of the game).
You can move around freely in the stages just by tapping where you want to move—but being seen by hostile characters will force you to restart from a safe location. Everything else is as easy as tapping on objects or characters to interact with them. While most good point-and-click adventure games depend on deep story and rich characters, Tiny Thief is all about the magic of pushing the big red button and seeing what happens. The logic behind the puzzles is as zany and fun as the art style, so expect to be surprised, entertained and humored by how they play out.
You have to get quite a ways through Tiny Thief before the puzzles start getting challenging. While something can be said about a point-and-click that can really get the gears turning, Tiny Thief seems perfectly content in delighting kids and adults alike. A big part of why Tiny Thief is less frustrating than the average point-and-click is because it intelligently simplifies certain genre idioms such as item collection (and God forbid “combining” items). Tiny Thief replaces them with environmental logic puzzles that focus on exploring the wonderful scenes that the developer has created and figuring out how each one works.
Point-and-click adventure games are not for everyone and I suppose we could always ask for more levels, but it’s honestly kind of hard to complain about a game that looks, plays and feels this good. Tiny Thief feels like the exact game that the developer set out to make, and it shows in how polished and well thought out the end result is. If Rovio keeps finding and publishing games like Tiny Thief, the Angry Birds will have to watch their backs.
Developer: 5 Ants
Release Date: 07/11/13
Platform: iOS, Android