A Flash design project by Phillip Reagan of Texas, USA, Thief weaves a cryptic atmosphere with captivating puzzles to pull you into a story you didn't even realize you were participating in.
You begin staring at a table that holds a monitor and a strange box. You can click on either object, one leads to a puzzle with rotating triangles while the other has some unusual buttons and a beeping grid. No explanation is given, you just have to figure things out on your own. And I surely won't ruin the fine experience with spoilers in this review! It isn't until you solve a few of the puzzles that you realize the story behind the game and learn just why it's called Thief. The atmosphere is extremely mysterious and draws you in from the moment you begin. Warning: you will be hooked.
Analysis: My first foray into Thief happened to be the radar-like puzzle on the right. It's entirely possible to complete the game starting here, but only if Lady Luck happens to be a close relative. Needless to say I didn't last very long and went to give the flashing grid a try. Coming up with the solution was fairly intuitive, but progressing through the series of puzzles proved a little more difficult. I quickly learned to pay attention to the small details that were repeated throughout the mini-puzzles. I snatched some paper and kept notes that turned out to be priceless. And the moment I learned the story behind the game, I was completely hooked.
The pacing and difficulty are perfect in Thief, keeping you on the verge of frustration so you keep plugging away for the solution. I like the open-ended feeling (though it's an illusion) and using clues from one puzzle to the next is a great way to create a fuller sense of satisfaction, especially in a smaller project of this nature.
Just like the other finalists in the competition, Thief drops you in the middle of a puzzle (or set of puzzles) and leaves you to your own wits to find a way out. It's captivating, creative, and enormously rewarding to play. Phillip has done a wonderful job and is deserving of one of the top prizes!
dancemonkey: This was hands-down my favorite of all the entries. I loved the story, and loved that you didn't get to discover the story until you'd solved a fair amount of the puzzle itself. The puzzles were my favorite variety: they required experimentation and observation to figure out the mechanism, but once you'd deduced the solution none of them required a great deal of time to actually solve. I actually felt proud of myself when I finished the game!
Jay: Although Thief strays a bit from the theme of the competition by including several puzzles to solve, most of the puzzles are, in fact, exactly what I was hoping to see. Not only are they great puzzles, they are also brilliantly woven together into a seamless game play experience that is engaging and enjoyable from beginning to end. Creative and original, with an overarching narrative that steals away your innocence as third person observer, Thief belongs among the best of this Casual Gameplay competition.
Noah: Thief is a perfect example of what I was looking for in the contest entries: great puzzles—some very delicious—and a lot of personality. It even offers a creative back story to those willing to put forth a bit of effort. Though, if we could only take a peek inside that book...