A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Though done in a cute, harmless way, the game is about stealing other people's money, becoming a master thief.
Positive Role Models
Becoming an accomplished thief could be seen as admirable, but it's not a profession most parents want their kids to pursue.
Ease of Play
A timed (100-day) goal, low initial rewards, falling damage, unforgiving AI make this challenging, especially at first.
Violence & Scariness
Best players will avoid violence through stealth. Characters can be killed permanently by falling and being shot, beaten, blown up. But violence is cartoony, no blood.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Swindle is a downloadable stealth-action game about grooming a group of thieves to break into homes to steal money. It's primarily a fantasy/steampunk stealth game that has a time limit, as well as challenging, unforgiving AI. It also features bloodless, cartoony violence, and characters can be permanently killed by falling and being blown up, shot, or beaten to death.
Is It Any Good?
This is likely one of the most stylish (and challenging) stealth/action role-playing games you've ever played. With graphics that look ripped from a gorgeous children's book or a 2-D animated film and with a sprightly piano soundtrack, it takes you to a romantic alternate reality where you get to be the Fagin-like head of a ring of thieves. But after drawing you in with this amazing first impression, it immediately shuts you out by not teaching you to play.
The few tutorial messages at the game's start aren't enough to explain everything, which means suffering lots and lots of pointless deaths and more reading (in the help section) than you probably want to do. More bothersome than this are the controls. Theoretically, you can play with either a gamepad or keyboard, but the keyboard controls are downright horrendous. Seriously, the game is near unplayable without a gamepad. But if you have a controller and are patient enough to learn the ropes by dying 50 or so times, then you're in for a good time. The idea is to rob places, build up cash, and use it to buy skill and equipment upgrades. Once you have things such as wall-climbing suction cups on your hands and high-end computer skills for hacking, you can take on tougher security measures and reap bigger rewards. In addition to having the right toys, success depends on fast reflexes and careful planning. The challenge of The Swindle is admittedly steep, but the randomly generated locations make for near-endless variety and entertainment.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.