This is one of the nicest video game surprises I’ve had in a long time. Stoic, creators of the excellent Banner Saga, dropped a game on Steam this week out of almost nowhere. And it’s pretty good!
Killers & Thieves is a game made by Stoic co-founder Alex Thomas, and is all about the daily operations of a thieves guild. Like a Darkest Dungeon Lite, without the combat and depression. Taking charge of a roster of thieves, acrobats and knife-wielding cutthroats, you need to manage their HQ, send them out on missions, recruit new members and work your way through a campaign.
The game is split into two sections. There’s a management aspect, which you play via a gorgeous cutaway illustration of your thieve’s HQ and some lush top-down maps, but you’re also directly responsible for the missions you send everyone out on.
The missions are played in real-time from a side-scrolling perspective, with the idea being you need to manage your thieves (who each have various skills) to get them in the right place at the right time, so they can pull off heists as quickly and efficiently as possible.
There are some twitchy little problems with the controls and mouse icons in this mode, and a few interface oversights that might leave you scratching your head wondering how to get a simple job done, but on the whole it’s a nice, stripped-back representation of the same kind of experience we get in a game like Thief (or even Invisible Inc.).
Killers & Thieves isn’t going to blow your mind when there are games that do some/all of what it’s offering with more polish and depth, but for a surprise release (and a game that looks like it’s made the most of limited money/resources) it’s a fun little exploration of the sneakier side of life.