620224_largerWho plays point-and-click adventure games for the gameplay? I don't. I'd rather be jumping, shooting, slashing or racing. No, I play them for the package. The look, sounds, mood, story and characters all matter more when a game consists of interacting with a static environment. Well, 5 Ants has developed one amazing package in Tiny Thief [Free], published by Rovio, the second in their Rovio Stars initiative. It's good to see Rovio using their powers for good.

In Tiny Thief, you guide the titular burglar as you purloin a wide variety of objects. Players navigate the thief and interact with the environment using touch controls. You can't get caught, and have to avoid, distract and defeat guards. The gameplay is similar to Samarost, but way less weird and obtuse (nothing against weird or obtuse). You set off chain reactions to get guards and obstacles out of the picture, and take what's wrongfully yours.

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Consider one of the pirate-themed stages. You've got to switch a pitcher of water with a sleepy potion, get the waiter to think the pirate is asking for water via a pulley attached to a parrot that squawks to alert the waiter. And in that same level, for some reason there's a guy on a platform with a playable Three Card Monte. Because why wouldn't there be? I could go on, but it'd spoil the surprises, and the main pleasure of this game is the surprise.

Tiny Thief oozes goofy charm. There are dozens of characters, and every level is vastly different from the last, although clearly set in the same light-hearted universe. Sure, there are tropes so old they could be antiques (we're still doing the damsel in distress thing, I guess?), but they're handled with a playful personality favorably comparable to The Princess Bride. It's a completely non-verbal universe, but Tiny Thief speaks loud and clear through the visuals, detailed settings and winning character designs.

Though Tiny Thief looks like it was designed with children in mind, that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's cute, but never saccharin or pandering, and the gameplay is simple enough for unskilled dum-dums like myself to find enjoyable, and yet there are plenty of extra items to find, adding depth to the experience.

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The items are fine, but it's not the collecting that makes Tiny Thief so compulsively playable. It's the satisfaction of experience. It's watching a chain reaction lead to a delightful bit of physical comedy or weirdness, making all that time looking for the hollow spot on the wall becomes worth the time. I didn't need to find every single item on every single level, but I wanted to, just to see every possible Easter egg.

Unlike Space Quest IV, Maniac Mansion, and every other Sierra Adventure title that delighted and infuriated, Tiny Thief is beatable for the layman. So finding those nooks and crannies aren't the herculean task they might otherwise be. The gameplay might be trial-and-error, but but because there are levels splitting up the action, and because getting caught by guards doesn't take you back more than a couple of steps, making a mistake isn't a big deal.

5 Ants have streamlined the adventure game. The touch controls are straightforward and flawless. You can carry items, but there's no inventory. If you have the necessary item and you can use it, the game will tell you. It may lack the depth of Sam and Max Hit the Road, but it's never as infuriating, either. Tiny Thief never felt like it was wasting my time, even on levels that stretched 20 minutes and beyond. The animation was always fluid and smooth, the sound design peppy, and there's never a shortage of ideas.

There are five tutorials, which barely count as levels, and another 25 stages across five worlds. I was shocked by how well every level distinguished itself, even within worlds. Every new screen was like beginning a newly reset game of Mouse Trap, but with setup exorcised in favor of pure Goldbergian fun.

In the world of Tiny Thief, every stage is a brand new cartoon, waiting to be animated, and you always get to play the Bugs Bunny, always with the upper hand against every authority figure. Every time I tricked some evil rube, I kept expecting the wordless thief to turn to the camera, raise his eyebrows and ask, "Ain't I a stinker?" Yes you are, tiny thief. Yes you are.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • hourglass

    I need a point and click on my iPad like I need a hole in my head.

    • Parkingtigers

      I'll get my trepanning drill.

    • Nick

      The hell?

      Point and click is a fantastic and is a genre that deserves a lot more notice and love. It fell by the wayside not because it was limiting, but because gamers said "no, we want polygons!! LAME. GOOD ART IS LAME" and that's why Kings Quest 7 was a gigantic pile of crap, and was the last game made in the series.

      • Reignmaker

        Wait is this a point and click like King's Quest? Meaning, it has an actual story and dialogue? I thought is was more of puzzle platformer.

      • dancj

        I don't know King's Quest, but point and click games don't need story a dialog. Point and clock just covers games where (back in the mouse days) you point at things in the scene and click on them to try to work out what to do.

        Games like Myst, Samarost and all of the many many room escape games.

      • Nick

        Yes.

        :)

      • davidonabus

        You mean Kings Quest 8.

      • Nick

        Yes, technically 8 was the supreme shift, but 7 was still a gargantuan pile of crap. I was so 1 dimensional that any of the wit and inventiveness of games 1-6 simply did not exist.

        It made way for crappy Disney style graphics and a new interface that down righ sucked.

        Anyway, I was heartbroken hearing that a tablet redux of the KQ games was cancelled. I'd have given a kidney for those to be naively on my device.

  • GamerGuy

    This game is amazing. The puzzles are awesome and very cool visuals to go with them. Love it.

  • Nick

    Yes. This. This is a review I can get behind.

    • CevanB

      Unlike the Limbo review.

      • Nick

        Ugh. Let us not mention that. Please. Ever. I consider that review tantamount to sleeping with the really, really ugly and annoying person at the bar after scores of whiskey.

        And then some tequila.

      • 61050

        lol, my specialty

  • InkyTheGhost

    Great review, glad to see 5 Ants getting recognition for their fantastic work. This is one of the most purely enjoyable games I've played in a while.

  • FuZion

    Played it, loved it. Still need to collect everything.

    Bang on with the review (Those animations certainly are very neat & well implemented into each scene) & I can't recommend this enough to anyone that likes to work through a puzzle.

  • dancj

    You had me at "Samarost"

  • King Random

    Rovio is going up in the quality area eh! xD

    • FuZion

      Well, what they've chosen to publish is. I still have no plans to do anything more Angry Birds in a while.

  • Seth

    How long is the game? I'm planning on getting it but I'm hoping it takes longer than an hour or two to complete.

    • miguelSantirso

      I'd say it takes at least 5 hours... But I would recommend to play the game slowly, enjoying it :P

    • Karzay

      There's a good chance you might be able to beat within 2-3 hours if you already know the puzzles and if you only do enough to beat the level. Most likely it'll take 5-6 hours if you try to find everything. Some of the extra items are only available for a brief time within a level. If you miss it, you have to start over if you want all the stars.

      • miguelSantirso

        Yeah, but users don't usually know how to solve the puzzles, right? We tested with many different people and it usually takes more than 5 hours without getting everything. It obviously depends on each player but I doubt there's many people that completes the game in 3 hours!

      • Karzay

        True, most users will be new to the game. I was thinking that some users might be curious what others are saying about Tiny Theif in gaming forums and might come across a few of the solutions for the puzzles, especially the more difficult ones.

        I completed the game on a flight home, which took about 3 hours and 20 minutes, but I also had some help from the person next to me. (She said she would download the game too.) I'm sure you are right though, it will take most people more than 5 hours to complete.

        Great game, btw. The art and animation alone is soooo worth the price. I like the humor in the game as well. I look forward to see what you guys create next. :)

      • miguelSantirso

        Thanks :) Also, I guess that the toucharcade readers are more "hardcore" gamers and they will be faster to progress through the game than the average casual player. Anyway, 3 hours and 20 minutes is fast! You are quite a good thief ;) hehe

    • Seth

      Sounds good to me. I would imagine it was extremely time-consuming to craft those levels, so that's about what I was hoping for.
      The animations are fantastic, btw!

      • miguelSantirso

        Indeed, every detail of every level has been carefully handcrafted and it did take a lot of time to get everything right! It's really great for us that players are noticing every detail :)

  • Jetjet

    That's my best gem for 2013 on IOS! Worths every pound of its cost !

  • LOLCAT

    I had been waiting out on this for the review. Glad to see I can finally get it now!

  • estamas

    It was an instAbuy for me and enjoyed every minute of it. There are some easier and some "harder" levels, but not impossible ones. The animations, sounds, easter eggs are all awesome, highly recommended game!

  • toxiccheese

    Love this game! Just finished Limbo and this is a great follow up. This has the same trial and error as Limbo (which inexplicably got 3stars) but I love the discovery associated with that kind of gameplay! Get it now!

  • Squatch2000

    Totally love this game too! But I already finished I am really hoping they make a ton of new levels :)

  • tRKe

    Great game, it reminded me a lot of the PC game Gobliiins. I love the artwork and charm of the game. Definitely needs more levels. I would be more then happy to pay for a DLC for this gem. rk

  • CacciaCM

    At its core, Tiny Thief is a point and click adventure though concise level design and stealth mechanics ultimately set it apart.
    AppsGoer has got an in-depth review on this game.

  • bwort110

    I dont understand why this game is called a " point and click" adventure. You cant compare this game with sam and max, monkey island or something else. It feels like a light puzzle adventure. I like this game, but i dont understand this hype.

  • wigzisonfire

    Awesome game. Awesome review TA.

  • Guest

    great review guys. 5 ANts totally deserve it, Tiny theif is a great game.

  • gabuas

    Does this game deserve 5 stars? I think it is a little over rated

    • Mooro

      This game absolutely deserves 5 stars. Just finished it last night. Loved it. The design, animation, level of detail and humour make it one of the best iOS games I've played. Congrats to all involved in making this little gem :)

  • Reignmaker

    Anyone know how this compares to the Vikings game released earlier under the Rovio name?

    • http://www.nitrome.com/ Nitrome

      Were still to get an actual review on Touch Arcade which im still hoping will happen (but in initial impressions seemed to really like it) but we got great reviews from most sites around the web for Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage. Its a very different sort of game to Tiny Thief though so its hard to compare.

  • BJorn_LuLszic

    Finished the game 4 hours after the game is officially released. :D

  • http://www.silentrocco.com/ Silent Rocco

    Game of the Year contender! This game is a gem!

  • iHatePlayToWin

    Extraordinary game! Finished all 3 stars.

  • Zenfar

    Great review, Rovio Stars is really working out well, this and Ice Breaker are gems, Eric stars.

  • Andrew McNutt

    i just finished this game and can't say enough good things about it. beautifully executed and wonderful to play.

  • EscortGamer

    It's a good game, but I really don't like the tapping to go to areas. I'd rather use joysticks if Rovio would incorporate more control options.

  • elBlogDePier

    Well done, yes, but a puzzle not an adventure.

Tiny Thief Reviewed by David Clarke on . Rating: 5