(For those who are familiar with Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Croshaw: Read the following bit in his voice and it’ll make a lot more sense. Thanks – Ed.)
Hearing that Yahtzee makes games is like finding out that Godzilla likes to dabble in architecture. You’d think that being one of the most gleefully sadistic reviewers in the business would cause him to shy away from the production end of things and stick to the easier and safer practice of administering verbal sodomy to anyone foolish enough to allow their game to fall into his hands. The Escapist already buys him videogames and then pays him money to play them and make little videos about how much they suck. I’m not sure what he hopes to accomplish by making a game using stone-age graphics and then giving it away for free. The only thing he’s doing is giving his future prey some rhetorical ammunition. The next time he accuses Peter Molyneux of defecating in a box and putting it on the shelf in EB Games, Peter will be able to respond by pointing out that at least his game had more than 256 colors.
Croshaw’s “latest” effort – not that I’m aware of what his previous efforts might be – is Art of Theft, a sort of stealth / RPG / platformer / oldschool / puzzler / adventure game… thing, centered around taking things without asking. If it sounds like I don’t know what genre to put it in it’s because I have no flaming idea in the world what genre to put it in, a problem that Yahtzee himself apparently suffered from when he wrote the damn thing.
The game is mission-based. You must sneak around each level while evading guards, picking locks, disabling security cameras, and filling your pockets with the most prized natural resource: Rich People’s Money. You earn points based on how well you performed during the job, and can use those points to “buy” upgrades to your abilities, which seems like a cynical attempt to trick people into thinking they’re playing some sort of character-building RPG. Even more annoying is that it seems to have worked. There is a story here, which unfolds in text and noir-style images at the end of each mission like some sort of 8-bit version of Max Payne.
The game is available for the low price of $0.00 Australian, which I think works out to something like $-20.00 American. You can’t go wrong with a price tag like that, even if the game does have fewer colors than a KKK rally and the pixels are jagged enough to put your eye out. You see, this isn’t just a re-textured version of a successful game. This is something that actually tries to be new and interesting even while looking old and stale. It’s a nice trick if you can pull it off, and even if you can’t you can always go back to making little animations of flying turds to illustrate how awful it is that The Escapist is paying you money to play Super Paper Mario.
Not that I’m jealous or anything.
* Trilby turns out to be the name of a kind of hat in other parts of the world. Not that I would know. In America all we have are baseball caps. Which we all wear backwards. To cover up our mullets.
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