The Rovio Stars publishing initiative is only one game old as Tiny Thief comes to market, but 5 Ants's game already has a formidable challenge living up to the label's high standards.
We recently saw the very first Rovio Stars offering, Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage, which wowed us all with its supremely well-balanced brand of physics-based puzzling.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Tiny Thief doesn't manage to scale those same heights - but it's also sufficiently fresh to warrant a closer look.Point-and-tap
Tiny Thief plays like a point-and-click adventure game shrunk down and separated into standalone bite-sized challenges.
The idea is to guide a light-fingered youth around a series of simple medieval environments, pinching from mean-spirited authority figures and helping out the disadvantaged like some pint-sized Robin Hood.
Puzzles are solved in a linear fashion by collecting, using, and interacting with objects in a set order. Stray near an object that can be used or picked up and a tappable command prompt will pop up.
The best levels are imaginative yet logical. The worst make little sense, and rely on trial-and-error and aimless wandering and tapping to see where our hero can affect the world.Get the hint
This isn't helped by a hint system that can only be activated every four hours. We didn't find ourselves inclined to use it until the end of the third world, but it still seems like a pretty obvious shortcoming.
There are additional incentives in the form of optional extras you can collect - as well as an ongoing Where's Wally?-type game with your little pet - but, again, the solutions to these vary between the obvious and the downright obtuse.
Still, the sheer inventiveness of the scenarios and the gentle humour woven through each of Tiny Thief's levels keeps you progressing and, yes, enjoying yourself - even when the gameplay is occasionally only a notch or two above those interactive kiddy books that are in abundance on the App Store.Good in a pinch
If we could name two defining aspects of a Rovio Stars game this early on, it would have to be polish and character. Tiny Thief, like Icebreaker before it, is beautiful and distinctive to look at.
The animation is sublime, and each level is packed full of tiny little incidental details that help you form an attachment to our protagonist and his pet. Get caught and he'll react in a different way depending on his environment - trying to dig his way to freedom or holding a flower in front of his face, for example.
It's little details like this that really make Tiny Thief a pleasure to play through, even when its trial-and-error gameplay starts to grate.
Despite our reservations about Tiny Thief's limited gameplay, it retains sufficient charm, polish and fun elements to make it two from two on the Rovio Stars score card.
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