Developer: Wonderstruck Games
Publisher: Rising Star Games
# of Players: 1
ESRB Rating: N/A
Score: A- (90%)
The fun thing about having such a huge backlog of games to go through is it’s genuinely surprising to finally stumble across stuff in the digital stack that’s worth taking time to fully explore. Granted, this sometimes means later than usual reviews. But hey, at least they get done. Wonderstruck’s fantastic sneak and steal game, The Marvellous Miss Take is one of those excellent indie surprises you can’t gauge solely from ogling screenshots and movies at all. It’s a game that needs to be played even if you’re a stealth game veteran who thinks you’ve seen it all. Quirky visuals, snappy writing and mostly tight gameplay are all here for your enjoyment and the game excels at making you smile as you stylishly sneak back your stolen inheritance…
The story initially drops you into the shoes of the lovely Miss Sophia Take, the sole surviving relative of an aunt who left the young lass a rather large art collection. Unfortunately, thanks to the not so nice art collector Ralph Blackstock and his nefarious scheme to get the family art first, Sophia’s would be fabulous collection has been lifted and sent to museums, galleries and other spots throughout London. What’s a gal to do other than get it all back through not so legal means in a fun arcade-like adventure/puzzle romp? Miss Take is joined by two comrades in disarms, teenage thief and pickpocket Daisy Hobbs and former artist turned night-owl art scooper supreme Harry Carver.
Each character has her or his own skills, tools and you’ll play as all three as the game progresses. Controls are completely mouse-driven and work quite well, particularly if you’re a fan of adventure games. A patch (just released today) adds controller support and fixes the path-finding issues and a few other things I’d written about, but had to delete once I replayed some missions earlier. If it sells well enough on PC at its premium price point of $19.99, it’s easy to see this one popping up as a mobile title at some point, perhaps with additional content.
As your go-to gal, Sophia’s skills are well-rounded and she can use a handful of gadgets against the handful of guard types that randomly pepper the levels. As you zip through each of the relatively short (but oh, so tricky) maps, you’ll see that using all those skills and gadgets correctly is what makes the game so much fun. Daisy’s a bit quicker than Sophia and can pickpocket keys from guards, a necessity in her maps that require unlocking areas and objects to take what’s inside. Harry is actually the most interesting character in the game thanks to a disability that makes him the slowest thief you’ve probably ever seen in a game. He makes up for his lack of running speed by offering up some of the more tension-packed missions to play.
The AI is great here and there are times when you need to be spotted and chased for a bit in order to get guards away from the item(s) you need to steal. At first glance, some players will probably try to scoot and scoop under the noses of a guard or three who turn around at the right times (when you need to get to an item) and then at the wrong times (when you pick up that item or are about to). Using each thief’s distraction is key to success here, but prepare for some real fun when guard dogs enter the mix. It’s guaranteed you’ll laugh a bit to a lot when you get those canines alerted and they’re coming at you to sink THEIR canines into your character’s ankles or wherever they’d prefer to chomp.
Presentation is superb all around with the visuals doing the 60’s ad art/animation thing and a solid soundtrack that has different tunes for each character keeping things rolling along. The art direction here is great because it’s uniform across each area of the game from the maps to the hub world/museum that serves as Sophia and company’s base of operations. Sure, it’s not a visually intense 3D card smoking game at all. But in terms of artwork and a look that’s unique and likable right out of the gate, Wonderstruck’s art team did it up right and then some. Watching Sophia and crew amble, slink and otherwise get around is part of the fun and you’ll want to grab poor Sophia’s hat each time it flies off when she runs away from those rather irate watchmen and patrol pooches.
As noted above, any complaints about some of the mouse stuff were resolved in that patch today, so I’d guess if I had to whine about something it would be that the game should have been released on a few more platforms. Stealth games have gotten a sour rap this year thanks to a few that didn’t do much other than set things back a few years, so having a game that nails what it intends and do it so darn well is a great thing indeed. Granted, those who don’t like the art style or expect “stealth” games means you get a gun and grenades to use at some point probably won’t bite on this hook. But that’s always their loss when they refuse to try something new and exciting.
The game requires a bit of thinking, lots of looking and some leaps of faith when you try something new or different. Outside the box thinking is rewarded as you can access bonus treasures during missions while facing that dreaded timer. The great thing is you can replay missions all you like in order to score more art and beat your old times. This of course, adds plenty of replay value as well as justifies the price point. Yes, we’re in the cheap gamer age where twenty bucks isn’t a steal any longer, but I’d say you’d be making a big Miss Take of your own if you passed this one up.