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Trilby: Art Of Theft (PC)

I watch Ben “Yathzee” Croshaw’s Zero Punctuation reviews on a regular basis. While I believe that most of his arguments are correct, I believe he is too harsh on some games that don’t deserve to be taken down as much as he does. This is why I was rather interested in playing Trilby: Art of Theft, one of the games created by the Australian developer. Can the man behind the critical reviews deliver when it comes to creating great gaming experiences? The short answer is: yes.

Trilby: Art of Theft is a stealth platformer in which play as Trilby, a British thief stealing from the rich. When his burglar career seems to be under total control, the protagonist is involved in a complex situation. I won’t talk too much about what happens to let you enjoy the game’s story to the fullest. I will only add that the story is very well presented, both with simple cinematics and in-game information.

The game starts out with a brief tutorial taking place in Trilby’s hideout. Pretty much all the basic elements are presented to the player. First of all, the player is introduced to the three-lights system on which the game relies: Full light, Medium Light and Darkness. The player can be detected by guards and cameras in Full Light. In Medium Light, the player can also be detected but he/she can wall hug to become unnoticeable. In Darkness, the player can’t be seen at all. Then, the player is introduced to hacking and lockpicking. With these techniques, the player can disable surveillance cameras, open safes and unlock doors. Following this is the introduction to the alarms limitations. For each level, the player can set off a certain number of alarms before the mission is automatically aborted. The tutorial also presents the player’s only weapon: the tazer. With it, you can take out any enemy on the map by getting close to them and electrocuting them with Trilby’s cane. Like it is the case with the alarms, a limited number of tazers can be used in a single mission.

Each of the missions in Trilby: Art of Theft asks you to steal a specific amount of money in the game’s levels (and sometimes asks you to steal a specific item). Items that can be stolen will not only reward you with money counting toward the level’s goal but also with Reputation Points (RP). These points can be spent at Trilby’s hideout for new abilities. Another interesting aspect of the game is that you actually have to look around for clues in the levels in order to succeed, which is something that is sadly missing from many stealth games out there.

Trilby: Art of Theft’s replay value is good. Going through all the game’s levels will take a good amount of practice and patience, but the satisfaction you get out of it is totally worth it. There is also a bonus level which asks you to go through all of the game’s level with only 7 alarms and 7 tazers. It might sound really hard but it can easily be achieved with the right abilities unlocked. Also, missions can be replayed to get higher grades and win more RP. The visuals and the audio found in the game resemble what you could have seen in an old PC 2D-platformer. Surprisingly the graphics are really detailed and you can rely on what you see on-screen to plan your actions before you act (people snoring, cameras changing angles, guards looking around, etc.). The soundtrack and sounds are also decent. You will never get tired of listening to the music and it will probably get stuck in your head (without being annoying). Just like the graphics, the sounds will give you clues on what is going on in the environment and help you plan your next moves.

While the game is rock solid in many ways, it still suffers from some problems. At first, the game’s difficulty is just right: you can make progress without too much trouble or if so, just the right amount. However, it gets much more difficult in the blink of an eye (so much that it is frustrating). Also, the fact that you can’t go back to early levels to earn RP and build up your characters’ skills makes the game even harder. The costs of the RP are so high that if you choose the wrong upgrades early on, you will most likely have to start the game all over again.

Nonetheless, Trilby: Art of Theft is one great game. In fact, if it would have been released in the NES or SNES era, it would probably have become a classic. The gameplay is deep and the story will keep you interested throughout the game. Since the game is available for free, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t play this game. Give this game a try: you won’t regret it.

Trilby: Art of Theft is available on the PC for free at http://www.escapistmagazine.com/content/games/yahtzee/artoftheft .


- The gameplay is really deep and fun to play
- Puzzle and exploration elements are fun
- The story twists always push the player forward

- The difficulty curve switches from normal to extremely hard too suddenly
- Non-cumulative RP points makes it difficult to build-up the character correctly

Gameplay: 8
Visuals: 8
Audio: 8
Lasting appeal: 8.5
Innovation: 7

Final Score: 8.5

Game experience at time of redaction: Completed all Heists and completed the bonus Heist
Redacted on: March 30th 2011
Uploaded on: May 7th 2011