It’s hard to separate 5 Ants Games from Rovio Entertainment, the makers of Angry Birds and… Well, a lot of Angry Birds. The partnership between the two is bringing 5 Ants a lot of exposure, but it might not bring them longevity. That’s a shame, because it should. Their games are rightly getting great critical attention. I’m not the first to say it, but I certainly won’t be the last: Tiny Thief, their latest game, is a good way to pass an afternoon.
Tiny Thief is a side-scrolling puzzle game that encourages you to be a thief. Think of it like a more colourful, strategized version of Aladdin — without the musical. Is it worth your time? Read on to find out.
A Little Intro
Tiny Thief isn’t like Angry Birds. Instead of trying to take out the enemy, you’ll spend time trying to sneak past them instead. I’ve actually seen the game compared to Metal Gear Solid, which I think is a bit of a stretch, but I understand where they’re coming from. You want to spend time hiding in barrels, or finding ways to crawl above the bad guys, to avoid getting caught.
The game operates like a point-and-click, which works well on a mobile device. Tapping an area on the screen moves your character, and you’ll see an obvious popup whenever you’re able to interact with something.
Interacting with items and parts of the environment is how you’ll progress through the levels. Most of the fun in Tiny Thief honestly comes from these elements — the environments are colourful and each one is unique from the next. Not unlike Angry Birds, the different situations the thief is put in are half the fun — and half the addiction.
Some Familiar Rovio Mechanics
The other half of the addiction comes from some of the Rovio mechanics we all know and love. If you get through the level, you’ll be given one star, but if you want to get three stars for level completion, you’ll have to steal a group of items. These items vary from level to level, and as the puzzles get more difficult, collecting all of them your first time through becomes more unlikely.
In that sense, there’s replay value very much akin to Angry Birds, but it feels a bit more intellectual. It’s not the only Rovio trademark, though. To make the game more difficult, the levels are often much larger than the screen, and the game zooms in on only a portion of the stage. Not seeing the whole thing at once makes the game harder than it would be otherwise, but also more rewarding — again, in typical Rovio fashion.
At the end of the day, I’m kind of confused as to who made this game. It seems like a partnership, but I’m not totally clear on it. This feels like Angry Birds meets a point-and-click.
That’s not the bigger problem, though. The bigger problem is that there are better point-and-click games out there on the Android platform. Not long ago, I reviewed Finding Teddy, a beautiful 8-bit point-and-click puzzler, and I think it simply blows Tiny Thief out of the water. That’s not to discredit Tiny Thief or say it’s a bad game — it’s not — but if I had to pick one to spend money on, Tiny Thief wouldn’t be it.
Tiny Thief is a platform game with a stealth aspect, and if you like that sort of thing, it’s great. It’s also got a bit of an arcade influence and some serious replay value, thanks to Rovio’s touch. But despite all the popular wizardry behind the game and the candy coloured graphics, I don’t think it’s very deep. It’s certainly fun, but it’s not something I want to go rushing back to all the time.
I enjoy Tiny Thief. I think it’s a good game. It’s just not a great one.