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Tiny Thief review: A slow-paced platform game for puzzle fans

While Rovio's newest release probably won't be the next Angry Birds in terms of popularity, it is sure to keep puzzle lovers occupied for hours... that is, if they're willing to shell out the bucks for the download.

Jaymar Cabebe Former Associate Editor
Jaymar Cabebe covers mobile apps and Windows software for CNET. While he may be a former host of the Android Atlas Weekly podcast, he doesn't hate iOS or Mac. Jaymar has worked in online media since 2007.
Jaymar Cabebe
4 min read

If you're a fan of platform-style puzzle games, then allow me to introduce you to Tiny Thief, a new release from Rovio, which puts you in the shoes of a diminutive Robin Hood-like character who steals from medieval baddies. While it may not be the next Angry Birds, there's no question that this game is fun, has fantastic graphics, and offers a challenge that should keep puzzle lovers occupied for hours.


Tiny Thief

The Good

<b>Tiny Thief</b> blends platform-style gameplay with mind-bending puzzles. The controls are dead-simple and graphics are charming.

The Bad

The $2.99 price tag will be a turnoff for all but the most hardcore puzzle lovers. The slow pace of the game can get annoying.

The Bottom Line

If you love platform-style puzzle games that require substantial brainpower, then Tiny Thief is a worthwhile purchase, even with its $2.99 price tag.

Following the scoring scheme of Angry Birds, Tiny Thief's levels award you one to three stars, depending on the objectives you meet as you play. Of course, you don't have to earn all three stars to advance in the game, but it is a good idea to at least try, since part of the fun is figuring out how to meet all of a level's objectives.

Tiptoe around medieval baddies in Tiny Thief (pictures)

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From the start, you'll notice that Tiny Thief features charming 2D animation and a uniquely offbeat sense of humor. The medieval setting gives way to fantasy scenarios involving dragons, pirates, and knights, and the platform-style play lends itself to the game's ladder-climbing and chandelier-swinging action. Overall, the gameplay is fun and dead-simple with a control scheme that is based only on taps.

To advance in Tiny Thief, you need only complete the primary objective that is laid out at the beginning of each level. This gives you one star, and it's usually not too difficult to figure out.

Tiny Thief has a uniquely humorous 2D visual style. Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET

To get the second, more difficult star, you need to find your pet ferret. It's hiding somewhere in the level, and spotting the creature gets increasingly tough as you go, since later levels usually offer more places for it to hide. In fact, I've gone through a number of levels without spotting the ferret at all, which speaks to the difficulty of this objective.

While the first two objectives are fairly straightforward throughout the game, the third is not as clear. Earning the third star is so difficult because each level asks you to find one or more secret items. At the start of each level, you have no idea what these items are, and you often have to complete a series of specific steps to find them, which, as you can imagine, is extremely tough.

Fortunately, if you get stuck on a level, there's the Book of Hints up top, which can help you get unstuck. You can pop it open for a picture-based walkthrough of the level, but once you do, you won't be able to use it again for four hours. While the wait time may seem annoying, I actually find it to be completely reasonable, considering it encourages you to use your own puzzle-solving skills to get through the game. Also, the forced wait is a lot easier to swallow than, say, a monetary charge for a hint, don't you think?

What sets Tiny Thief apart from other platform games is the way it effectively blends the brain-teasing puzzles with stealth-style gameplay. To do well, you not only need to time your movements and get your spacing right, but you also need to think laterally to discover all the possibilities within a level. For instance, in one level, you might need to tiptoe by an enemy, create a diversion, and quickly jump into a hiding spot as he passes. All the elements considered, the game uniquely challenges your brain and finger dexterity at once.

Stealing from unsuspecting baddies takes stealth and often a little bit of ingenuity. Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET

Perhaps my biggest knock on Tiny Thief has to do with its slow pace. Right from the get-go, with the tutorial levels, the game feels like it could use a shot of adrenaline. It's true, the game is about being a stealthy and calculating thief, but I still find myself getting annoyed at times while playing. As it is now, Tiny Thief features a number of characters that simply walk slower than they should. This means you need a lot of patience as you wait for the perfect opportunity to strike. As well, you need to make the proper adjustments to compensate for how slowly your own character moves. All things considered, if Tiny Thief dialed up the speed a notch or two, I think the game would be significantly more enjoyable.

Priced at $2.99, Tiny Thief isn't the most expensive game on the market, but it clearly sits a tier above the broad range of 99-cent games out there, and for good reason. Sure, it may not be a universal hit like Angry Birds, but with the game's humorous storyline, high-quality and charming graphics, and well-crafted challenges, I say Tiny Thief is still an attractive purchase for puzzle-loving mobile gamers.


Tiny Thief

Score Breakdown

Setup 10Features 7Interface 9Performance 10