It’s time to get the crew back together and step into the role of mastermind thief. Do you dig?
Skilltree Studios and Kalypso Media want to channel your inner thief in Crookz: The Big Heist, a stealthy strategy title that will see the player planning some fairly involved robberies and then commanding a group of colourful thieves as they carry out your plans to a letter. As if that wasn’t cool enough, the whole thing is set in the Seventies. Yeah baby!
The game begins by dropping the player into a tutorial which also acts as an introduction to the games underlying story. I’ll be honest, there is a lot to take in with the queuing up of actions and the different actions that each character in the crew can take. Crookz is a very thoughtful game from the off and even through the tutorial the player will really have to pay attention.
Each member of the crew have different skills which will make them essential for overcoming hurdles and reaching the goal. One character may be able to sneak around with cat-like grace, whilst another brings the muscle that may be required to overcome guards, then a third will be needed for picking locks.
Players will be able to move the camera around the map at will, be it a museum or a bank, to see not only the obstacles ahead, but also the main loot and any additional rewards they can gather. Locked doors, switches, security cameras and guard patrol routes will all be visable, allowing the player to work out which of their crew needs to go where.
Pausing time and queuing actions allows the player to take a more thoughtful approach, and quickly change their plans on the fly without having to struggle with the games various different symbols and options. Objects can be found through a level, or bought if required, that will slightly less successfully mimic the skills of certain characters if they happen to be busy elsewhere, but a decent lockpick will always be preferred over a crowbar.
Make too much noise and you run the risk of being discovered. If any one of your team gets captured, then I am afraid it is game over.
Once the player has completed the tutorial and been introduced to the story, which involves betrayal and the breaking up of the team for a while, it is on to the levels which gradually increase in difficulty. There is also a challenge mode which opens up, offering much more difficult heists on previously completed maps with additional limitations and time limits.
Not that I have ever known any massively successful thief crews, but I really do have a new found respect for the amount of planning that goes into a heist. The strategically minded will find themselves spending a lot of time in the planning phase before each heist, carefully working out exactly which crew members to take and where they need to go. For a criminal mastermind, Crookz will be a breeze.
Of course, once the actual heist begins, the player will have to think on their feet should things not quite pan out as they expected. If one of your crew is too noisy or too slow, or if a guard moves quicker than expected, then the player will find themselves pausing the action and changing their plans.
As the levels increase in difficulty, new threats will be introduced to spice the heists up. To counter this, the crew members will also unlock new skills as they go along, such as being able to loop the security feeds, giving the player even more things to think about.
Despite all of these options, many of the levels are quite linear and will need to be completed in a certain way for success. Early levels will feature areas or loot that is unobtainable until later in the game when the player unlocks the required skills, so there is a good reason for going back and playing through levels again. However, beyond the drive to grab everything possible in the game, there is not much incentive for taking risks beyond each levels main goal.
Visually, the game doesn’t look that good, and there are a few anomalies along the way. But everything fits in well with the 70s theme, from the locations and the characters, to the menu and overall colour scheme. The same can be said for the soundtrack – it fits well but is not particularly memorable.
Crookz: The Big Heist is a thoughtful heist game for stealth strategy fans. There are lots of options for the player when it comes to planning the heists, but the reality is that most of the heists offer little freedom in how they are completed. That being said, for the armchair criminal mastermind or the strategy enthusiast, Crookz will offer hours of enjoyment.