Trilby: The Art of Theft

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I'm sure many of you have heard of Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw, well known for his Zero Punctuation game reviews. Interestingly enough, he's a developer of indie games as well. There are a whole slew of games he's done, mostly point-and-click adventure, though he's made occasional forays into a more platform-style of game. One of these is the recently released Trilby: The Art of Theft.
Thieving

Jacking some sucker's stuff for profit.

Trilby: The Art of Theft takes place in the same universe as his Chzo Mythos games (5 Days a Stranger, 7 Days a Skeptic, etc) and follows Trilby, a cat burgler and established character of these previous games. However, as the plot takes place 2 years before any of the other games, it plays out more as a prequel, meaning that you don't have to have played his previous games to enjoy it. As Croshaw himself says, the game isn't overburdened with story, and focuses more on innovative gameplay. Still, the film-noir storyline does hold quite well, and makes the game all the more compelling to play.

The gameplay could probably be described as a 2D platformer version of the Thief games, though with Trilby the gameplay has a more puzzle-based focus. Your basic goal for each level is to accomplish an objective of some sort, usually stealing an item of value, while stealing everything you can along the way. And then stealing some more on your way out. There's a lot of stealing involved. Of course, there are obstacles, such as security guards, security cameras, laser trip beams, etc. So Trilby has several abilities on hand to deal with them, such as hiding in the shadows, disabling electronics, picking locks, etc. It's also possible to use a taser to disable security guards, but there are only so many times it can be done, otherwise the mission ends. An added perk to the thievery is that you can use the points you get for each stolen item to buy new skills, or upgrade the ones you have. These range from increasing your lock picking skill, to being able to hang on the ceilings. These add a lot of replayability to the game, as you can go back and play previous levels and attempt to do a better job on them with your new abilities.

Zapping

This guy saw me jacking his stuff, so I'm tazing him.

The graphics follow the retro look of older DOS platformers. However, they are quite smooth and very stylish, fitting the atmospheric noir setting very well. (The cut-scenes are done in silhouette, which is an especially nice stylistic touch.)

The sound is excellent as well. The sound effects are crisp and clean, and more importantly, they provide audio cues that make it easier for you to react to things you may not have noticed. The music is also very fitting, with its subdued jazzy feel.

Trilby: The Art of Theft is one of the better indie games I've encountered out there. The addictive gameplay and very professional design make it quite enjoyable, and the story keeps it from becoming just another "concept" indie game. I'll definitely be looking forward to Croshaw's future games. And perhaps we'll be seeing some of his adventure games up here as well.

On a final note, the game isn't available for Linux, but it does play via Wine quite nicely. I primarily had issues with getting the midi background music to play (though it's likely an issue with my sound setup), but other than that the game runs flawlessly.
Trilby: The Art of Theft is available on the Escapist website.
Download it here.
Croshaw's website. (His other games can be found here.)

Rating:
Highly Recommended