Game Name – Tiny Thief
ESRB Rating – N/A
Genre – Stealth Adventure
Educational Values – Patience, Visual Discrimination, Problem Solving
Platforms – IOS, Android
Where to buy – Itunes and Google Play
When should you buy it? – If you enjoyed Angry Birds but are looking for something a little different.
About the Game
It is difficult to find a good, simple, stealth game, but to find one on the iPad is rare, and to find one that children can play is downright exceptional. You play the titular character, a small Robin Hood like thief who steals from rich or evil characters including a corrupt sheriff, pirates, and unfair baker.
The gameplay is as simple as can be, you tap where you want your Tiny Thief to walk and, when actions are available the game will present a pop up balloon showing you what you can do. All you need to do is avoid being seen.
Each level is a combination of puzzles that you need to solve to accomplish some goal. For example, you may need to collect ingredients from across the map and put them into an oven to make a cake. All the while, avoiding the gaze of guards. To be successful, you have to search, negotiate, plan, and try different approaches to advance through each level.
Similar to Angry Birds, you can earn up to three stars in each of the levels depending on how well you do. There is a single goal that is required complete each level, but accomplishing additional tasks along the way will earn you the extra stars.
Hide in the barrel so they don’t see you!
What the Game Teaches Us
Tiny Thief is a stealth game at heart. You have to take your character through each level without being seen, which sometimes requires you to wait patiently, hidden behind a shrub, while people walk just a few steps away from you. Unlike most games, where you can charge into a fight, or pick your own time and place to battle, stealth games force you to dance to someone else’s tune. That can be unnerving for some gamers, but it is a valuable skill to be able to sit and delay gratification.
Being a successful Tiny Thief is as much about seeing and understanding the level as it is solving problems. There is even a hidden ferret on each level that finding gets your an extra star. Much like Tap the Frog, playing Tiny Thief helps develop visual discrimination, and the ability to gather and parse visual information.
Once you have learned to size up the level, and wait for it to unfold around you, a gamer can explore the core mechanic of Tiny Thief. Problem Solving. Unlike the old school “point and click” action games, where you were required to simply scrape the entire screen to unlock secrets, Tiny Thief requires higher order thinking to solve some of the puzzles. Don’t worry, for those puzzles where the gamer is just lost, there is a “hint book” that will walk you through the puzzles step by step.
So THAT’S how you do it!
General Feelings on the Game
I saw Tiny Thief on the Rovio website when I was doing the review for Angry Birds, and bought it on a whim. It languished for a couple of weeks on the iPad until I fired it up almost by accident. Wow was I impressed. Tiny Thief could be called “my first stealth game” since the gameplay and aesthetic is geared toward children, but that would be a gross oversimplification.
The story is told with a couple of pictures at the start of each level and then your actions in each level. And yet it works. At no point do you have to wonder what is going on, or why you are doing what you are doing. It is a testament to the developers how much information they are able to impart for a story without ever writing a word.
Tiny Thief is everything you want in a casual game. You can play a round in 5-10 minutes, during which you can learn all of the mechanics you need to be successful. The puzzles are creative and different throughout the game, and while they are ‘challenging’, they are not ‘punishing’. For only $2.99, you should definitely pick this one up.