If it seems like there’s a different local multiplayer PlayStation 4 title released every week, that’s because there is. From Extreme Exorcism to Toto Temple Deluxe, we’ve seen several new additions to what is becoming a very crowded genre. The latest title to join the fray is Glass Knuckle Games’ Thief Town, a four-player title that involves blending into a crowd while trying to assassinate other players.
Sporting a gorgeous American frontier aesthetic, Thief Town is a very simple game. In a crowded environment, players must kill each other by stabbing them with a knife. There is one major caveat, though. Every single character on the screen looks exactly the same. That means you’ll have to try to move like the computer’s artificial intelligence in order to blend in, while also looking for a character that stands out.
Since the non-playable characters don’t attack each other, you’ll be essentially giving up your anonymity by trying to stab an adversary. This makes every attempt at stabbing a player a huge risk and reward scenario. Smart players will want to attack in a crowded part of the screen, so they can blend in with NPCs after showing their true colors as a bandit.
An additional level of depth appears once players realize that they can play dead by standing still for an extended amount of time. While it is a clear giveaway if nobody has been murdered yet, it can be a genius tactic if used correctly. What makes Thief Town so special from a gameplay perspective is how it manages to incorporate advanced strategies to such a simple concept.
Players only have one minute to complete a round and assassinate their friends, so it becomes a mad dash towards the end of each round. Stealth is quickly thrown out the window, as players just want to earn some points. The simplicity of Thief Town definitely works in its favor, as it is instantly accessible to new players and there is enough depth to make repeated play sessions just as fun as the first.
Besides the core mode, developer Glass Knuckle Games has included two other variants to help flesh out the package. These include Spy Town and Drunk Town. Spy Town quickly became my preferred way to play since it gives each character a different special ability for each round. These include smoke grenades, guns, and even dynamite that causes a huge explosion. It instantly turns the game into a much faster paced experience, and helps add some variety to the experience. There isn’t a ton of weapons, though, so this is more of an appetizer of what could’ve been an amazing mode rather than a full on entrée.
Drunk Town on the other hand was my least favorite mode. One player each round is a sheriff, who has to use his limited ammo to only shoot the player controlled bandits instead of the innocent drunks that are stumbling around the screen. The sheriff also gets additional ammo for each player he kills. The problem with Drunk Town is that it isn’t particularly fun to play as one of the drunks, as you have no attacks and can only stumble around the playfield.
Thief Town is a blast to play with friends, which makes its lack of online play a huge bummer. Usually this isn’t a big deal for a PlayStation 4 title thank to the system’s best feature, Share Play, but even that isn’t supported as it gives a strange error stating the game “isn’t out” yet. I’m not sure if this is an issue on Sony’s end or the developer’s side, but Glass Knuckle Games did let me know that “will definitely look into it for a future update.” There is no doubting that Thief Town is best played locally, but it would be nice if I could play the game more often since it’s a ton of fun in short bursts.
Another let down of the game is the lack of levels. There are only two available, desert and graveyard, which is disappointing considering how much fun they could have had with the western theme. Imagine battling inside a saloon or outside the Alamo. There is so much unexplored potential within Thief Town‘s aesthetic. No matter how fun the game is, players are bound to get sick of looking at the same backgrounds repeatedly.
Seeing the same content repeatedly ends up being the biggest downside to Thief Town. It starts to feel light on content, after players have battled in the same area for the 25th time. A title update with additional backgrounds or modes would go a long way in fleshing out an experience that is phenomenal at its core.
Thief Town undoubtedly has a lot of promise, but it hasn’t reached its true potential yet. With additional modes, levels, and weapons it could very well be challenging games like Sportsfriends and Nidhogg as definitive hits to pull out during a party. In its current state, Thief Town is still a lot of fun, just a step down from the very best that the PlayStation 4 has to offer.
Review code for Thief Town provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here