The only thing that was really stolen was my time.
Thief of Thieves is a stealth game based on the comic book series of the same name created by Robert Kirkman. It stars Celia, the apprentice of the main character of the comic series, as she lays low in Europe after a job gone wrong. Apparently laying low doesn’t mean keeping out of trouble as Celia quickly winds up in the care of another criminal organization getting ready for their next big score.
The game is dull at best, with its core ideas woefully underdeveloped. Despite being the main gameplay conceit, the stealth in Thief of Thieves feels identical to a forced stealth section in an adventure game with only the most basic mechanics of the genre being included. You stay out of an enemy’s line of sight, occasionally throw objects to distract them, but that’s really the most Celia can do on her own. Eventually you’ll gain access to teammates who can assist you with certain actions, but they’re all triggered by button prompts similar to a TellTale adventure game like the adaptation of Kirkman’s other work, The Walking Dead. There was never any room to innovate or improvise when something went wrong, and the most creative solution I was able to pull off was brute forcing through sections with little opposition.
If Thief of Thieves was meant to deliver a choice-based narrative like The Walking Dead, it doesn’t do a very good job at it. Story sequences with dialogue options are few and far between, and the story being told isn’t very good. The plot is boring and sometimes delves into the nonsensical. The opening mission has Celia trying to steal a luxury motorcycle in the middle of a party with an elaborate plan to get into the garage and escape undetected. The plan goes off without a hitch, but it turns out the motorcycle isn’t there; the bike’s owner has brought it upstairs to show off to his guests. So what’s Celia’s solution? She decides to physically push the owner off the motorcycle and steal it in full view of him and the other partygoers, negating all the effort that went into being stealthy in the first place.
The best part of the game is without a doubt its visual style, which was carefully tailor-made to match Kirkman’s art. Thief of Thieves feels like a comic book brought to life, with flashy cut-ins and dialogue boxes combined with a bold art style that has the potential to look great. Unfortunately even this is ruined by the game’s incredibly poor performance on Switch. In addition to the graphics being muddied with very low texture resolution, the game’s engine seems to stall and sputter at every step. The framerate takes a hit whenever there’s a crowd - which is often - and entire environments fail to load textures, leaving a black void where a wall should be. At one point while I was talking to a character, his head glitched out and rapidly shook up and down. It felt like I could never move to a different area without something new going wrong before I got there. It’s laughable to compare the actual performance in game to the trailer on the eShop, which is so obviously captured from another platform that you can see a blurred out button prompt at one point.
Thief of Thieves would be a boring game in the best of conditions, but the Switch version only serves to make a bad game worse. It’s incredibly short, clocking in at less than five hours, but I still found myself struggling to care to keep going long before I reached the end. From the bland, underdeveloped gameplay to the buggy port, Thief of Thieves spent so much time focusing on the comic book’s style that it didn’t bother including any actual substance.