Each of the game’s 50+ stages are presented in a minimalistic pixel art style. They’re spread across three distinct worlds, each one introducing a few new obstacles along with a fresh tileset. Swiping the screen in different directions will move your character in that direction until they hit an obstacle, and you’ll be navigating traps, coins, gates, and other hazards as you fly across each stage. Levels can be completed in as many moves as necessary, but you’ll earn a Gold Star if you finish the mission under the allotted move count. For casual players, it’s a great touch. In later stages it becomes increasingly difficult to hit the move count, and letting players advance without hitting the move quota means they can experience everything Poor Thief has to offer.
Unfortunately, what is has to offer isn’t that much. You’ll be able to breeze through the entire game in less than a few hours, although you’ll be playing much longer if you try to Gold Star every level. There’s also an unlockable mini-game, but it’s not the main draw of the title. Many of the puzzles seem difficult at first glance, but you’ll quickly notice that there’s really only one logical way to move across the map. There are a handful of well-executed levels – in particular, one in the first world had me scratching my head for 15 minutes straight – but there probably isn’t enough variety across all the levels to motivate most players to dive back in and Gold Star all the content.
In fact, across all 50+ levels, there’s only a few new mechanics introduced: hazardous arrows, gold coins and gates, leafs that stop your characters movement, breakable cocounts, one-way gates, invisible walls, and a couple other less noteworthy features are the only things that will change up the gameplay from level to level. It’s unfortunate that there’s such little variety across the game, as it’s core loop of dying and retrying levels is such a blast. Each time you die, you’ll drop a tombstone. This can then be used to stop your character’s movement, opening new ways to approach each level. It’s a novel concept on paper, but one that needs more variety to keep things interesting for dedicated players.
What Poor Thief lacks in creativity, it makes up for with its wonderful soundtrack and incredible polish. Everything about the game is tastefully executed – from its main menu and level select screen to each of the character’s sprites and background tiles. The beautiful art is complemented by a perfect soundtrack that wouldn’t be out of place in an 80’s spy film. Honestly, half the reason I kept coming back was to continue listening to the music – it’s just that good.
Although it’s a bit short and lacks variety, Poor Thief is certainly worth a playthrough. There are some genuinely well-designed puzzles, and the soundtrack alone makes it a great addition to your mobile library. It would have been great if it had a few more tricks up its sleeve, but nonetheless, you’ll probably enjoy your time with this unlucky thief.