Here’s another testament game to AGS’s versatility as a game design engine: Ben Croshaw’s Trilby: The Art of Theft, another mission-based platformer based on an improved version of the engine Croshaw used for his other more sinister platform game, 1213. According to the author himself, the game is set 2 years before the events in 5 Days A Stranger, which makes TAoT unrelated to the Chzo mythos games. The Art of Theft features excellent artwork and animations from Croshaw, plus some subtly humorous and exciting music from Mark Lovegrove.
The Art of Theft aims to show more of Trilby as a master burglar, and Croshaw has made it a point to produce more of a game this time, compared to the 1213 series which had a lot more backstory. Set in fictional Chapow City, the eccentric Trilby tries to rob the rich Dominic Perota, which unknowingly was part of a plan by a secret group called the Company. The Company wishes to make use of Trilby’s talents, and they do everything to make him do so, with any means necessary. Each act of robbery in the game – whether you steal items, break safes, and turn off alarms and lights – lets the player earn not only money but also what the author calls “reputation points.” These points allow the player to upgrade his skills as a thief by letting him “purchase” whch abilities he wants to further learn.
Though I have only played about 4 levels, I’ve found this game a lot easier to play with compared to its ancestor 1213. The gameplay is much smoother, and there’s a lot more gadgets and objects to play with. There are less restrictions with movement as well – I don’t have to deal with Trilby complaining about his ankles after jumping from tall places, nor do I have to frantically look for a shower just to nurse myself back to health. In TAoT, if you fail the mission, you don’t have to die – you just got caught, that’s all, and you restart the mission.
However, in keeping with Trilby being a gentleman thief, other “restrictions” have been put in place as part of his “personal standards.” Depending on the mission, only a limited number of guards can be immobilized with a taser, and only a number of alarms can be ticked off. There are several ways these can be avoided, though sometimes there are cases where there’s no other choice. Which is fine, in my opinion, since not only does it add more challenge to the game, it forces the player to think and to observe more.
The only thing I dislike in the game is the fact that rolling is something I have to spend reputation points on. I understand Trilby is a master thief, and a gentleman thief at that. That should not mean he doesn’t know by heart how to roll his body on the floor especially when needed. He can’t even run, for chrissakes; he can only creep. This is a problem especially for players with less deft fingers (yeah, that includes me). Rolling should really have been inherent in Trilby, not another skill to learn.
Another complaint I’ve heard from a sibling of mine (whom I’ve introduced the game) about this game are the controls. He complains that game should allow him to set whatever keys he would like to use for the game, instead of getting used to just what was originally set, since some of them are pretty counter-intuitive. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
All in all, I haven’t been able to do work since I started my Thanksgiving vacation because of this game. I recommend The Art of Theft for anyone looking to spend some time with a stealth platformer, or even just a simple distraction. You can’t go wrong on this one.