The Swindle drops you into a steampunk re-imagining of Old London Town in a burst of ominous music and swirling fog. The bold aesthetic is all sepia hues, complete with silhouetted zeppelins hovering above the skyline.
You play as a burglar whose livelihood is threatened by an advanced new surveillance system called The Devil’s Basilisk. It will be implemented by the police in just 100 days. In that time, you have to develop the skills necessary to steal and destroy it, or you and your entire gang will be out of work.
You start in the slums, but are informed quickly that no one ever got rich by robbing the poor. As soon you have the money, you can buy your way into wealthier districts. But first you’ll need to invest some in the skills and tools that will help your team get their hands on the swag they need.
You break into a series of building, each one randomly generated so that every platform you explore is unique. These are populated by robot police officers, who will set off alarms if they detect you. They’ll attack you themselves and they’ll call for back up. Your job is to collect cash and hack into computers to grab as much money as you can each heist without getting caught or killed. As well as getting attacked or captured by police, you can also suffer damage from falling off roofs and other miscellaneous injuries.
The game is set against a clock in the sense that you only have 100 days to steal The Devil’s Basilisk. This gives playing a real sense of urgency, even though the individual platforms don’t have any time limit. The real skill required by The Swindle is stealth, being able to sneak though the various buildings without being detected for long enough that you can clean the place out of all of its money. You also need to have a decent understanding of strategy, so you can use your money wisely to progress efficiently through the levels.
The Swindle is wonderfully crafted. The movements of the characters are very fluid and lovely to watch. The mechanical police officers trundle charmingly through their assigned areas, limbs rolling as if genuinely moved by internal cogs and pulleys. The team of burglars that you control are all uniquely designed with interesting characteristics and fantastically weird names.
The detail in the game is excellent. It rains an accurate amount, and the glimpse you get of the London Eye in the distance is lovely. The variety of different heist locations keeps your mind engaged so you don’t fall into monotonous patterns of playing the same level over and over again. It also keeps the game fun and interesting turn after turn, rather than getting repetitive.
The Swindle is a wonderful game with a lot of character and enough challenge to keep you engaged for 100 heists and more.