Thief Simulator is refreshingly honest with itself. Developer Noble Muffins has created a sandbox title that is, without a shadow of a doubt, about simulating the life of a thief - at least, a thief in an extremely cheesy crime film written by someone who only half paid attention to the Guy Ritchie film they were watching while working on the script.
Thief Simulator follows the story of the protagonist who is aptly called The Thief. The Thief begins his journey standing in someone's backyard, getting a call on his cell phone from a guy named Vinny who informs him he has been sprung from prison by a local crime gang that wants him to start, you guessed it, thieving for them. Then Vinny tells you to steal something like $30 and an old CRT television to prove The Thief's competency and the story, what little there is, begins to unravel from there. Vinny also has what can only be described as a borderline offensive interpretation of a New York accent, and inadvertently or not provides much of the comic relief in a game that takes its craft very seriously.
Luckily, the story is mostly window dressing in a game that is much more concerned with accurately recreating what it's like to be a thief prowling the streets of unsuspecting neighborhoods. When it comes to gameplay, Thief Simulator is remarkably detailed and nuanced. This isn't Grand Theft Auto, so players can't just bungle a burglary and shoot up a building to escape - there is a certain finesse to the action, even while The Thief is driving around his beat up car and putting old electronics in the trunk to sell to a pawn shop.
Burglaries can begin on a whim from the player, who gets experience from breaking into new houses and stealing loot, or they can be pursued as part of the game's story. Either way, players have a ton of options when it comes to executing their plans, especially as they get further into the game and develop The Thief's skill tree. That, coupled with the equipment available for purchase on popular website Tools4Thieves, makes burglaries a player preference thing and easily the most fun element of the game. Players can cut a perfect hole through glass like Catwoman or electronically disable locks to make sure even the smartest homes feel stupid once The Thief has entered and left.
Thief Simulator also features a nice surveillance system that sees The Thief watch his next targets from afar, marking their daily routines to best plan out when to make his play. That, too, can be augmented and modified - there are mini cameras that can be placed in mailboxes, for instance, beefing up the surveillance element of the heist.
Should players get in a spot of trouble, there are various places to hide within and around homes, including garbage bins and closets. That's highly recommended, by the way, because the alternative is driving The Thief's car, which handles somewhat like a cross between one of those wagons parents pull their children around in and a brick on two-and-a-half wheels. Hitting pedestrians results in a reset of the mission, so the car is a dangerous tool.
Thief Simulator is very good at one thing, and not very good at everything else. But the level of detail that has gone into all aspects of thievery - lockpicking, casing a house, breaking and entering, and stealth, just to name a few - is remarkable and worthy of commendation. Despite needing some serious help in terms of narrative and world-building, and having some dated systems that are tangentially related to stealing, Thief Simulator is a sandbox game at its heart and that means those concerns can be superfluous depending on what gamers' want.
If the only thing you want in life is the purest, most accurate representation of life as a burglar, then it's hard to imagine any game doing it better than Thief Simulator - just don't expect anything else from it if you don't want to be disappointed.
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Thief Simulator will be available November 9th, 2018 on Steam. Screen Rant was provided with a Steam key for review purposes.