Killers and Thieves review for PC

Platform: PC
Publisher: Stoic
Developer: Alex Thomas
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

When I was approached to take a look at Killers and Thieves prior to its launch on Steam, I had no clue what it was or where it had come from. Alex Thomas, one of the creative minds behind The Banner Saga had been quietly working on this project for a long time, and was finally ready to show it off to the world. Killers and Thieves was created by Alex Thomas and published by Stoic, the company he co-founded, the same company that publishes The Banner Saga.

Killers and Thieves is a stealth action game that also manages to be a sim. You play many roles, first and foremost being the guild master in charge of thieving and other general misconduct. Managing the funds coming in and going out of the guild is a major part of Killers and Thieves. You don’t want to go broke, or else your game will come to an end. As you grow your organization and influence you will open up new areas that allow you to increase the number of shops that you have to fence your stolen goods. Every day your guild operates costs you money, so you must always ensure that the amount of money coming in is greater than the money going out.

Bringing in that money is done by recruiting talent throughout the city and using them to steal for you. This is done in the form of a side view action game, with the walls of buildings transparent to the player to allow you a view of the inside. There are several mechanics at play when it comes to actually executing heists and stealing goods, but each thief is going to have a different set of talents and skills that cause them to play different in any scenario. This keeps the game fresh, and makes you stop and think before sending a particular thief on a mission. You have to find and recruit the right thief for the job and then send them on that job.

When you are not actively engaged in story missions, you are able to send thieves out scouting the city for new locations and new marks, which are a vital part of making sure you keep your operation afloat. Picking which thief to send out on this missions is important, because any thief that you have sent out on a mission won’t be available for a heist until they return. This makes you think carefully before making any decisions with quests. Failing a side quest however causes it to disappear completely and you are unable to regain those goods you could have gained. Side quests are such an important part of maintaining your finances it is hard not to send your best thieves out, but at the same time you don’t want to be left with your B team for an actual heist.

Killers and Thieves relies on a lot of grinding, be it heists or side quests, nothing comes easy. The progression of your thieves is not as free as you might think, with several skills and progression choices available but really only two routes to success. Heists can take up to 30 minutes and, while being randomly generated each time, they get stale by the end of the game. Several tries and failures will precede success with molding your thieves in Killers and Thieves.

The story here is exactly what you would expect from one of the creators of The Banner Saga. It is clear enough and interesting enough to keep you reading and coming back for more. The art follows suit and is a beautifully drawn world with characters that manage to convey a lot of emotion on the screen. Cutscenes are few and far between, but are always enjoyable. This is not a great game by any stretch, but you can clearly see the framework for one and with a little less grinding and some more mechanics at play I could see this being a truly special sim. As it stands, it is just a good, fun 9-15 hours depending on how you play. Killers and Thieves is available today on Steam.

Grade: C+