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Picklock review for Nintendo Switch


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Platform: PC
Publisher: No Gravity Games
Developer: No Gravity Games / Deqaf Studio
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: T

Why is it so difficult to make a fun thief simulator? A few years ago I reviewed the imaginatively-titled Thief Simulator; it was mediocre, if we’re being generous. Now here we are with Picklock, and it’s barely any better. Is it really that hard to make a game where you break into places and steal stuff?

Strangely enough, the worst thing about Thief Simulator is also the worst thing about Picklock — which is to say, the controls in Picklock are terrible. It’s a stealth game where being stealthy is pretty much impossible by virtue of the fact you’ve got a kinda top-down/kinda-isometric camera that never gives you a good angle of where you’re going or what you’re doing. You can’t ever get a good look at the locks you’re trying to pick, the cops you’re trying to avoid, or the goods you’re trying to steal, and as a result you’re mostly just hoping for the best when it comes to all three.

In fact, that’s probably an understatement. The reality is that you constantly feel like you’re fighting against Picklock’s awful, impossible camera. It feels like no matter what angle you move it to, you’ll always be fiddling around to be in just the right position to — for example — both allow you to open a door and walk through it. This isn’t an issue in the tutorial, but the moment you get into a level where you need to avoid being seen and time is of the essence, it quickly becomes apparent that the game isn’t giving you the tools you need to succeed.

Also, the AI is simply bizarre. One time I walked right in front of a security guard and wasn’t even noticed…while another time, I was simply walking outside, minding my own business before I’d had a chance to do anything illegal, when a guard burst out of the soon-to-be-but-not-yet scene of the crime and beat my thief to a pulp for no apparent reason.

It’s too bad that the gameplay is so poor, because in the right hands Picklock could have been fun — albeit for a very short amount of time, given there are only about a dozen levels here. It’s got a decent sense of humour, as evidenced by the visual gags you’ll find here and there. It’s also got a fun voxel-art style, and an enjoyably jazzy soundtrack. Games are a lot more than their aesthetics, obviously, but fun graphics and music can go a long way towards making them worthwhile.

Not in Picklock’s case though. It doesn’t matter if it looks and sounds this good when it also plays this poorly.

No Gravity Games provided us with a Picklock Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: C-