The Swindle

Game review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
The Swindle Game Poster Image
Tough stealth game has cartoonish violence, limitless play.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Though done in a cute, harmless way, the game is about stealing other people's money, becoming a master thief.

Positive Role Models & Representations

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

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. 

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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.

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What's it about?

THE SWINDLE is set in a 19th-century steampunk London where Scotland Yard is on the verge of activating a new thief-crushing artificial intelligence program. Before they can ruin your livelihood, you and your stable of expert thieves must hover over the city in a special airship, rob as many buildings in as many neighborhoods as you can, and use the money to undermine Scotland Yard's ambitious agenda. The fate of thieves everywhere depends on you! 

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the media's depiction of thieves. Have you ever seen a thief in a book, movie, or TV show who's depicted as a hero?

  • Think about why we have laws that punish people who steal. Why is stealing a bad thing?

  • Discuss stealing. Have you ever been tempted to steal anything? Why?

Game details

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