Puzzle games are some of the most satisfying to play. Why? Because when you successfully complete a level, you know that it isn’t because you were just fast enough, or that your opponent’s connection isn’t great, or that you found the right power-ups. You won because you examined the situation, formed a plan and carried it out. It doesn’t hurt that Tiny Thief is easy to play and oozing charm.
Controls are very simple: click to move, and click again to use an item or go through a passage. While it seems like an oversight that you can’t queue actions to complete objectives faster, this means that you’ll never get stuck in a set of actions that aren’t right. You’ll seldom move where you don’t mean to, and you don’t have to worry about whether you’re clicking fast enough as ample time is allowed to complete all timed sequences.
The deliberate controls prevent mis-clicks, as well. You’ll never leave the safety of the wardrobe unless you press the icon near the wardrobe to leave and then click another place in the level to move there. If the game tried to interpret what you meant, you might find yourself accidentally leaving your hiding spot, getting spotted by the sheriff and having to start again from the last checkpoint.
Levels are fairly simple to complete, but the optional objectives make 100%-clearing a level harder. In each level there is a primary goal that nets you a star. You also can get a star for finding the thief’s pet ferret in each level. In early levels he’s just hanging around the level and is easy to find. Later, though, he’ll be better-hidden. The third star can be obtained by finding a number of hidden objects in each level. You aren’t told what these objects are or given any hint where they might be. The levels feature enough interactive objects that exploration and experimentation is fun, and the collectibles make it rewarding.
Something that many adventure games lack is a competent hint system. Tiny Thief breaks the mold here and has a great system for helping the player. If you really need it, the hint option will lead you through the solution step-by-step, but if you just need a nudge, clicking the hint button won’t spoil the rest of the level for you. It’s a great implementation that I’d love to see in more adventure games, as it lets the player decide where the line between challenging and frustrating is.
The papercraft visuals make Tiny Thief great to look as well. It looks like playing a storybook, and the physical comedy fits the style very well. There are six stories to play, each consisting of five vignettes and a few short comic panels. It’s just enough to provide a sense of progression and tie the great adventure gameplay together.
Pros: Great hint system, beautiful storybook visuals, plenty to do in each level
Cons: Price disparity between phone and PC is massive