Let me get this out of the way right from the start. The Swindle is a unique platformer that will test the patience of anyone who plays it. It’s relatively short but that definitely doesn’t get in the way of its depth or replay value. You play as a thief who must steal as much as he/she can before Scotland Yard is able to complete their new AI program. If the program is completed, remaining a thief will be impossible. You have 100 days to steal it.
You have 100 days to make it to the final area and steal the AI program. Each heist is one day and you must steal as much as you can. Each level is randomly generated and some will be incredibly easy, others will seem impossible. You will use the money you steal to modify your thief’s abilities and gadgets to make heists easier. Eventually you’ll unlock more areas with more loot.
You have to be on the lookout for the robot guards patrolling the buildings because if you are spotted, you are killed on sight. If you manage to not get killed but still spotted, money is destroyed and guards will block your escape routes. While not the end of the world, don’t get spotted. That being said, expect to die a lot. And of course, death has consequences: if you die during a level, you lose all money stolen in that session. So it can be frustrating when you steal $2,000 bucks and die to a misstep on spikes.
The stolen money is used to upgrade the thief’s skills (these transfer to new thieves if you die). Don’t worry about a lack of upgrades, though: there are a lot of mods to help you become a master thief. Using stuff like explosive charges and proximity mines are a more upfront, noisy, and risky way of stealing money but many of the levels have areas that you can only access by blowing up a wall. Gameplay becomes more varied the further you get and the more upgrades you buy. It feels like the game is evolving and it drives your desire to keep coming back.
Despite being rather simple, the game feels rather fresh every time you play it. You need to have patience though. You will die plenty, so learn from those mistakes. My biggest piece of advice is, unless you are spotted, take your time. Rushing is an easy way to take that one step too many.
The art is clean and fantastic. The dystopian Steampunk setting is amazing and you never really think of cybercrime as a Steampunk thing. It works so well in this game. I love the level designs, they’re wonderfully detailed and unique.
You can get the Swindle on PC (Steam) or the Xbox One. The only real differences between the two versions is the game runs smoother on PC, but I suggest you play this game with a gamepad. Both play very well and it really comes down to which platform you have/prefer.
If you love a good challenge and clever game design. Get The Swindle. You will not be disappointed.