Everyone knows the cliche about not judging a book by its cover, but it’s hard not to do that with Thief Simulator. The game’s title accurately summarizes exactly what the game is: a simulation about stealing things.
After a painfully long initial load into the game (around a full minute), you’re put into the shoes of a generic, slightly Jason Statham-looking thief. Your phone immediately rings, with a guy who sounds like he’s doing a bad Joe Pesci impersonation on the other end. He instructs you through a tutorial mission that doesn’t offer a great deal of explanation, and from there, you’re on your way.
Thief Simulator doesn’t deviate much from there. There’s a vague back story about getting out of prison and needing to work for the crime family who bailed you out, but it’s irrelevant and simply acts as a motivation for your kleptomania. As a thief, you’ll pick up missions, purchase tips that will provide information on your target houses and steal specific items that you can sell at a pawn shop or the internet thieves’ emporium, sporting the cringeworthy name “BlackBay.”
Missions require you to sneak around, pick locks, pay attention to people’s routines and myriad other activities that, despite offering variety, are essentially the same thing over and over again. Stealing items and completing story missions allow you to unlock new abilities and items, such as picking more advanced locks and gaining access to more efficient tools.
The act of stealing something isn’t all that thrilling either, though. After grabbing something, you’ll either pocket it or, if it’s a larger item, carry it to your car, at which point you’ll need to drive out of the neighborhood.
Movement on foot it clunky, imprecise and awkward. Driving is worse, with jerky controls and generally not requiring you to go more than a street or two to leave the area, at which point a fast-travel menu pops up anyway. Trying to pick up items is equally imprecise, and the interface is generally tedious to deal with.
Thief simulator doesn’t score well in the graphics department either. The visuals are passable, but there’s a severe lack of detail and polish. The houses in the neighborhoods all look and feel generic as well, without much variation or character.
The audio is bland and unimaginative, too. In addition to Vinny, your constant contact on the phone, other characters don’t bring much life to proceedings, and the environmental sounds are often dull and out of sync. Shutting the trunk of your car makes a thud that seems to play all at once instead of in time with the door actually closing.
To make matters even worse, I encountered a game-breaking glitch that wouldn’t allow me to progress any further into the game. I was told to steal an item and sell it on BlackBay, which I did. After completing the task, I exited out to the main menu. When I reloaded the game later, the autosave placed me back at the entrance of my garage/house as though I hadn’t sold the item. But the item was no longer in my inventory, and the mission to steal it was gone. There was literally no way to progress.
A glitch that egregious and easy to unintentionally duplicate is unforgivable, particularly when it occurs by completing a mission and then exiting the game, a logical stopping point that could happen to anyone.
I can’t speak for other versions of the game, but the Xbox release of Thief Simulator comes across as a game with a few good ideas, but ones that are seriously lacking polish and detail.
Thief Simulator steals 2.5 GiN Gems out of 5.