Ric Rococo: International Art Thief
What is it about thieves, especially those who steal priceless treasure, that elicits our sympathy? I mean, drug dealers and weapon smugglers are roundly reviled, assassins are at best "morally conflicted" despite the cool black cowls and capes, but of all the serious criminals, it only makes sense to speak of a "lovable thief." Or "lovable pirate," but that's just a thief with a big boat. Anyway, maybe it's because the "gentleman thief" never hurts anyone, and never deprives anyone of anything they truly need. It's not like Phineas Q. Vandersnoot, needs another Renaissance masterpiece; why shouldn't we enjoy it as a talented footpad helps himself to some of the loose artwork lying about?
That also might be the appeal of games like Ric Rococo: International Art Thief. Somewhat similar to Art of Theft minus the story and snazzy hat, Ric Rococo is a thoughtful game of stealth, theft, and escalator navigation that brings you the thrill of non-violent sneaking and filching in a museum full of inattentive guards, pivoting bidirectional cameras, unintuitive elevators, and highly stealable paintings.
Control Ric, looking good in his zip-up black spandex ninja catsuit, with the [left] and [right] arrows. The [spacebar] does most everything else: riding escalators and elevators, pilfering paintings, flipping switches, posing on unoccupied pedestals to elude clueless guards, and more. You can also use the [up] and [down] arrows to ride escalators and control elevators, though I find this doesn't work as well as the [spacebar]. Once you grab a painting, you have to find an open window to pass the painting off to your partner in crime. Elevators and escalators are the only means of moving from floor to floor, and they are laid out in an increasingly convoluted fashion as the levels progress. You have a limited time to collect a certain value's worth of paintings, so looking at the map at the beginning of each level and planning your itinerary is essential. Do you spend time grabbing the numerous but less valuable paintings near your point of entry, or do you risk capture to obtain the more valuable but better protected prizes farther afield?
Many browser-based stealth games have a generic "hide" ability that can be used any time, or let you hide in certain areas, like in shadows, or behind furniture. Ric specializes in the "goofy" school of non-detection, hiding either by hanging a stolen painting from an empty hook and curling behind it like a wall-climbing turtle, or by standing statuesquely on one of the surprising numerous empty pedestals like a ninja-clad Hermes or Thinker. More signs of the developer's humorous bent include the colorful, if flat, cartoony design, and the kooky treasures you buy after each level for your swinging, hyper-modernist thieves lair. Delight as you earn the likes of the World's Largest Truffle on Buttered Toast, because even grotesquely proportioned dessert items are improved with buttered toast.
Ric Rococo features only ten levels, and though the later levels are hard enough that you might have to repeat them, you may feel disinclined to do so. The pace of the game is such that there isn't much incentive to repeat parts of a level just to successfully complete it. But for the initial run through each level, Ric Rococo has it's charms. Who wouldn't want to be Ric, jetsetting to one fine, poorly-defended museum after another? It's a gentleman thief's dream.