How long has it been since you gathered three friends together, tossed each of them a controller, and played through an epic, multiplayer battle without needing an internet connection or a gaming subscription? For developer Brett Davis, the answer is clearly “far too long”, because his new title, Thief Town, is the perfect remedy for all of the world’s couch multiplayer woes.
Thief Town cleverly markets itself as exactly what it is – a hilarious 8-bit party game with simple mechanics and no plot whatsoever. There is no option for a single player or online multiplayer match; it’s either couch co-op or bust. To some, this may seem like a debilitating factor, but for anyone who grew up with visible injuries from fighting with siblings after a particularly tense Super Mario Kart or GoldenEye session, Thief Town will feel liberating.
In addition to the standard Thief Town match, there are also two additional game styles: Spy Town and Drunk Town. Spy town is more or less the same as Thief Town, except that each player also gets a unique, one-time-use item that can be utilised to their advantage. You can blow up a large circle in the map using TNT, while hopefully catching other players in the explosion, or you can use a gun to shoot a player from across the screen. The items that each player receives are random, and add an extra challenge to the game.
In Drunk Town, one player acts as the Sheriff, and the rest of the players are, you guessed it, drunk. The inebriated thieves have no weapons, and if they try to attack, they will simply fall over in a drunken stupor. The Sheriff, on the other hand, has a gun loaded with two bullets. He, like in regular Thief Town, must locate the player-controlled thieves and shoot them, gaining an extra bullet for each successful execution.
After playing just a few matches of each game type, the genius behind not including any single player or online modes becomes apparent. Thief Town works brilliantly off the energy in the room, and the game’s tension grows as you look each of your friends in the eye and promise them an early grave; the pressure of each match is what makes the game unique. While other party games have you competing for points, golden stars and laughs, Thief Town ensures that you are out for blood.
Out of the three game modes, classic Thief Town is by far my favourite because of its simple gameplay; its vast amounts of backstabbing, and potential for real-life acts of aggression make it as fun as it is frustrating. In Thief Town, nothing is worse than preparing to stab another player just as you get stabbed yourself.
It would, however, be nice if more game modes were included. Although Thief Town is certainly fun, its stabbing gets repetitive quickly. And with other party games such as The Jackbox Party Pack and Sportsfriends, Thief Town runs the risk of being overshadowed by similar titles that include much more content.
The monotony is somewhat broken up, however, by environmental obstacles, which can occur randomly during Thief Town matches. Dust storms can greatly limit visibility, or players can find themselves duking it out in a graveyard, where they can use some helpful tombstones as cover. These small changes help to keep things fresh, but are a far cry from providing any real sense of additional challenge.
In short, the best thing about Thief Town is that it provides quick, simple and uproariously fun, party-style gameplay. Even the main party screen, which is a saloon, fittingly, is full of fun. If you want to disable the music, for example, rather than sifting through menus, all you have to do is walk over to the piano player and stab him in the back. Or maybe you want to view the credits, or make the game look like you’re playing it on an old Game Boy. There are guys you can stab to make that happen too.
Thief Town’s gameplay isn’t deep or immersive, but it’s entertaining and hilarious, making it a great title to start up when your friends come around. And for a price tag of under $10, it’s a great game to have in your collection.
Great, but repetitive
Thief Town has the potential to give you and your friends plenty of fun and laughter, but might be left by the wayside in favor of bigger and better party games.