Killers and Thieves is a stealth-strategy game in which a coven of burglars enrich themselves on booty from a medieval city.
I played much of the Windows PC game over the past week, and found it to be a mostly enjoyable mix of action and tactics. You can watch my gameplay video above. The game was created as a solo project by Alex Thomas, co-creator of The Banner Saga series of viking-inspired RPGs and is being published by Stoic, the company he co-founded.
As the head of a criminal organization, I recruit thieves, train them, balance my budget and execute heists. These take place in sideways-view streets and houses, where I sneak through rooms, stealing cached money and objects.
Different thieves come with different abilities. Some can open locked doors, while others can fight against guards. One type can survive long falls from upper stories, while some can see into far away rooms. Missions yield experience points that I can use to train my thieves, so that they can execute their special moves more quickly and effectively, and hide for longer periods of time.
Hiding is a major part of Killers and Thieves. Depending on training and ability, each thief comes with a stealth budget, which counts down when they are seen by a servant or a guard. When my thief is in action, I can press H, and he or she is partly hidden from view, slowing down the clock.
Once the clock runs down, I can no longer hide and must make my escape without being apprehended. This is extremely difficult and, as often as not, results in my capture, which puts the thief out of action for a while. So the stealth in this game is not absolute. Sometimes, if the circumstances are right, I can afford to steal stuff in full view, and then just make a run for it. This is not a good strategy, but it is different from some stealth games, which punish carelessness more harshly.
Guard behaviors are either patterned or seemingly random. There are times when they will stand stock still for long periods, forcing me to find different approaches.
As the top boss, my job is to recruit thieves and expand operations. As I unlock different parts of the city through story missions, I also come across shops which I use to fence stolen gear. And so, part of the game is about making sure shops are well stocked with the sort of gear that can sell quickly and at the highest price. Each day, my operation costs money to maintain, and it's game over if I run out of funds.
My thieves can also stake out different parts of the city to look for areas that are most worthwhile targeting. These non-story missions are essential for keeping the operation financially viable, and for training up thieves.
Story missions often require thieves with particular skills, and these are not always available for recruitment, so there are times when I’m undertaking missions while I wait for a new recruit to show up, or a current thief to achieve particular skills through training. This can become repetitive.
Even so, I found myself enjoying Killers and Thieves, and taking satisfaction in well-executed robberies. The game is out on Steam today.