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Tiny Thief Review: Rovio’s Sneaky Puzzle Game Delights

When Rovio announced its new Stars initiative, we were all eager to see what the results would be. Now, two games in, Rovio is showing that, yes, they can put out good games that don’t have Angry Birds in them. Tiny Thief, the second release from Rovio Stars, is a clever little puzzle game that makes you think along the way.

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As the title implies, you play a tiny thief in the game. Each level is a challenge that the thief must overcome: achieve some objective and then leave the board without being caught. You are assisted by ladders, barrels, and interactive objects that help you distract guards and clear the path to escape.

In the Rovio tradition, each level of Tiny Thief is like a puzzle, complete with three achievable stars. But this isn’t a physics puzzle game a’la Angry Birds, despite the three-star achievements and mini-level structure. It’s almost akin to the PC classic Thief, but cuter — the primary skill to have in each level is to not be seen.

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“Not being seen” is a much looser core to build a game around than “Knock pigs down,” and so Tiny Thief has a different pace and engages different parts of the brain. It took me a little time to warm up to it, but once I got into the mindset I really started to enjoy myself. Sometimes levels are obvious in their execution; other times there’s a lot of trial and error involved to get it right. In every case, the objects you can manipulate are identified as soon as you come near them; so often it’s just a case of figuring out which sequence to activate objects in (and when to hide along the way).

In addition to the primary goal of each level, there are stars to earn for finding hidden objects. One object on each level is your ferret friend, who sticks his head out occasionally and waits for you to spot and tap him. The other hidden objects vary by level. Once you’ve earned a star you  have it; there’s no need to play repeatedly to earn three stars in one go.

I think that Tiny Thief definitely has the same “one more level” playability that Angry Birds has. Where it comes a little short is in replayability. There’s really only one solution to most levels — manipulate the right objects in the right sequence, while hiding when needed. You are truly solving a puzzle here, not inventing a solution. Once you’ve solved the puzzle and earned all three stars, there’s no incentive to go back and do it again.

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As one would expect from a Rovio game, Tiny Thief is presented with great visuals and audio. The design is distinct from other Rovio games, lending a cuteness to the proceedings that isn’t off-putting, and the soundtrack is catchy.

If you’ve enjoyed Rovio’s other offerings, you’re going to like Tiny Thief. It’s a great puzzle game and more proof that Rovio is an app force to be reckoned with even when they’re not flinging birds at pigs.

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5


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