The year is 1849 and London is decades ahead of its time thanks to major technological advances. But while the upper crust enjoy the luxury that progress has afforded them, the general populace bears a very dissimilar fate. Shantytowns crop up in the shadows of civilization and crime runs rampant. The anarchy swirls just enough to catch the attention of the bourgeois; they realize they must intervene before it is too late. And so The Devil’s Basilisk is designed… an AI which will see an end to all burglaries and crime in London town. Your mission? Not to let that happen.
The Swindle is a roguelike cybercrime strategy game from developer Size Five Games where you play as a random burglar plundering a random house somewhere in London with a random layout and security. With so much changing each time, one might wonder how to make any progress at all! Luckily, with the advent of The Devil’s Basilisk in 100 days, all thieves seem united toward one cause; stopping the AI that threats to tear their world apart. You’ll have to start out robbing the slums, but upgrade your airship and slowly you’ll inch your way closer and closer to the richer districts where the paydirt is!
The airship acts as your base of operations between heists. Upgrades to speed, jumping, tools, and the airship itself can be purchased with the hard-stolen money from your burglaries. Then, when you’re prepared, you can drop down into the city and begin your burglary! The main prizes are computers which house the bulk of a property’s worth. However, they can be down a labyrinth of corridors or in completely inaccessible rooms. The game’s level design is completely random and does not care how ill-equipped you may be for a certain task.
If you should happen to trip the alarm, you have mere seconds before the overzealous police bots arrive to destroy you. Escape, and whatever loot you plundered remains yours. Get caught, and that’s the end of that particular thief. Luckily, you’ll spawn as a new thief with the same upgrades, so nothing but money is lost in transition.
As you purchase higher security clearances, the properties you burgle become more complex and more lucrative. While you may feel content siphoning funds from one computer and bugging out, remember that the upgrades will be much more expensive as well. Each level is a balance between risk and reward… you have to know your limits and actually leave before making a silly mistake. The game does not reward you for trying.
Simply put, The Swindle is brilliant. Punishing brutal at times, but brilliant. The upgrades you can purchase create entirely new ways to play the game and the ever-changing levels keep things fresh. I cannot count the number of times I twisted my controller in anger after a security bot saw me and killed me, but I could not put it down! Every time something happened, good or bad, I hit the “Another Heist” button and dove right back in. Sure, I may have been late for work a few mornings, but it’s not every day I get to play such a well-polished and addicting game! I highly recommend picking it up, just don’t blame me when your whole day goes missing.