Stealing Our Hearts – Sneaky Sneaky
It was only a week ago, in a review of Last Knight, that we discussed the merits of cross-platform titles and the pitfalls surrounding them. More specifically, we found that, while some games shine on mobile devices, others don’t fare so well on PC. Sometimes you just can’t bridge the gap between physical controls and a touchscreen, no matter how hard you try. Today sees us returning to the subject, but much more joyously than before. Enter, Sneaky Sneaky.
Developed by Naiad Entertainment, veterans from Popcap and Retro Studios, Sneaky Sneaky is a cutesy stealth ’em up. You’ll control a devious hooded thief on the hunt for the Sultan’s rubies, and guide him (or her) through lush forestry, arid deserts and lively towns. You’ll need to be careful though, on your quest for riches you’ve made quite a name for yourself, and there’s wanted posters, with your face on them, plastered all over the kingdom.
Currently, the game contains 16 levels, with varying degrees of difficulty, but your objective is always the same: find the three hidden rubies and make a break for the exit.
Naiad describes Sneaky Sneaky as a “pseudo-turn-based mix of dungeon crawling and stealth”, an interesting and apt description. Each of its lavishly detailed 2D levels has all of the hallmarks of a well thought out dungeon crawler. You’ll travel through labyrinthine passages, solve basic puzzles and kill a skeleton or two, to boot! But, as the name suggests, you’ll need to be sneaky. You won’t be able to run in, sword swinging, instead you’ll need to hide, choose your mark and observe their movement pattern. When the time is right to strike, you’ll have to do so with pinpoint accuracy or tempt being caught in the act.
In battle sequences, Sneaky Sneaky switches its formula up a bit, When you aren’t fighting off bats, skeletons, or any of the other enemies the game has, you can freely roam around the level with no limitation, but as soon as you enter a skirmish things change. Suddenly, you’ll find yourself taking part in a turn-based RPG of sorts, where each character gets 3 turns to attack or move across the grid-like map. Initially this switch was a little jarring, but we quickly formulated strategies to take advantage of the shift.
Thieving is tough work, but you do have one friend, a rodent shopkeeper. Your little mouse friend will give you various items like health potions, tasty meat, hammers to break rocks and other knickknacks – for a price, but it’s here that the game gets most of its depth. As your quest progresses you’ll acquire different pieces of equipment to overcome obstacles, but they can also be used to keep battle fresh and exciting. For instance, a well placed piece of meat will catch the attention of a nearby enemy, thus occupying them for a short time. If the enemy is much more powerful than you, you could find a cosy spot and snipe them with your bow, or you could sneak attack them from behind if you fancy your chances. We found it particularly gratifying to place meat near exploding jars, and watching our enemies get blown to bits.
The environments you’ll find yourself in also provide variety, and can be used to mix combat up. You’ll run across various environment hazards such as holes or spikes in the floor, which can be used to your advantage. With careful timing you can impale an enemy, or pop up behind them, as they patrol the area. Although combat, and the tools you’ll use therein, are limited, the creative combinations you can come up with are a real boon, and will result in more than a few delighted cackles on your end.
Successfully completing a level rewards you with experience points and a ranking of bronze, silver or gold. Accumulating good ranks and experience allows you to level up some of your attributes, like the damage your sword and bow do, or how many squares you can move.
As we mentioned at the start of the preview, Sneaky Sneaky is a cross-platform title also being published on mobile devices. Fear not though, this is a good one. In fact it’s a great one. Clearly, great care has been taken to make things run as smoothly on the desktop as they do on mobile. The control scheme is simple and intuitive. A click of the left mouse button will send your little klepto travelling to your desired location; thankfully, controls are responsive too. Should an enemy suddenly do a 360, a quick click elsewhere will send him in your desired direction. Using your bow is a real standout optimisation, and really shows the care and thought that Naiad have put into the PC version of Sneaky Sneaky. Clicking on your current location will ready the bow, and pulling back, with the left mouse button still held down, readies an arrow. You can then rotate the mouse to fire in your chosen direction. It’s little things like that, that show the PC as a platform has not been an afterthought.
Audiovisually, the game is also a treat. A basic soundtrack of various guitar chords from the days of yore, and the plink-plonk of a glockenspiel accompany all of its stages. The soundtrack is enjoyable enough to have on in the background, but not so catchy or distracting to de-immerse you from the experience. Visually, Sneaky Sneaky is lush, and all aspects of the game, from its enemies to its locations, are colourful, and eye-catchingly detailed.
As Naiad’s debut title, Sneaky Sneaky really makes a statement. Not only is it a strong cross-platform title that easily casts off the mobile to PC stigma, it’s an incredibly fun title that will appeal to kids and adults alike. Whatever platform you choose to play games on, be sure to keep your eyes and ears open for this one, it might just steal your heart.