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Thief Town – Review

Before we had games like Hidden In Plain Sight, we had Thief Town. Whilst it may not be much to look at, it brought about the party game idea of hiding inside an AI crowd to kill your friends before they kill you. It’ll be ten years old next year next year and for me its a discounted gem that is just as silly now as it was then.

The graphics remind me of old 80’s vector lines spruced up but thankfully the collision detection is modern.

This 2-4 player party game sees everyone play as a lone ranger in the wild west and everyone looks the same. You’ll be placed into a single screen map in the desert, campsite or town and have about 15 other AI long rangers that will zig zag around the screen creating a crowd to blend into. Your task is spot a player and then try to take them out. You’ll have a knife at your disposal and often a gun or bomb too but of course, as soon as you make your move you’ll be instantly exposed. Others who spot your move will know who you are potentially and with run away or try to kill you first. Thief Town works best when you can’t see your other players’ controllers so you don’t cheat and look at their inputs. Then each round becomes a high stakes quickfire game of chicken.

What makes Thief Town more tense is that as soon as you are in range to kill a player, they are also within range to kill you. Often, staying still can mean that as players move up to you, you’ll be able to stab them first which is always the best surprise to reveal. Another tactic is the play dead button. This can be very useful early in a round as many other AI crowd members will also fall on the floor dead so you might be able to blend in and then make a surprise stealth kill. Round layouts can be helpful too as barbed wire tumbleweeds across the screen for you to avoid, or you can take on AI bosses collaboratively too. The main focus of the game is killing each other but there are three variants and various map and weapon switch ups to keep things interesting.

Depending on how rounds play out, you may get special rounds next time around that change up weapons or provide map variants to dodge and deal with.

For me, Thief Town works best in short bursts. It always provides a memorable 15 minute burst of silliness as its fast, frantic and always makes us laugh in local multiplayer meet ups. Whilst other games have provided perhaps a more rounded experience such as Unspottable which now has online play, I’ll always have a soft spot for Thief Town and it’ll stay in my games night rotation for many years to come.

Thief Town
Final Thoughts
A good laugh for short burst multiplayer stealth stabbing, this is a small package of joy that still delivers nearly a decade later.
Simple controls, simple to understand.
Very satisfying surprise kills will make players gasp and laugh.
Map and weapon variants help give a bit of variety.
Rudimentary graphics and sound will put some off.
Sometimes map events can be more problematic than they are worth.

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