The Swindle, if you haven’t heard of it, has been out for some time now. It was originally released in 2015 on PC and consoles to generally good reception and has now made it’s way to the ultimate in portable gaming: the Nintendo Switch. I’ve never played The Swindle before – nor had I heard of it – until the switch port so I’ll be taking a look at it with a fresh set of eyes. If a stealthy, rogue-like, steampunk-themed platformer sounds like something you might enjoy – read on!
Set in a steampunked, Scotland Yard in the mid-1800s, you will take charge of a career thief. A mischievous looking caricature whos made his living thwarting the coppers and picking up fat stacks of glorious green cash. But the authorities are soon going to release a device that will bring your career screeching to a halt: The Devil’s Basilisk. The story goes that this device will give all-powerful surveillance capabilities and your career as a thief will be over, so, to prevent this eventuality you’re going to steal it! And here’s the rub: You only have 100 in-game days to do it.
In The Swindle, you have 100 in-game days to accomplish your goal of stealing the Devil’s Basilisk, but it’s not all sunshine and roses. You’ll have to advance through multiple security levels: The Slums, Warehouse District, New Belgravia, Casino Town, The Banks and finally The Swindle. Each of these security levels costs money to unlock (and a hefty sum at that) and each bring its own challenges to overcome. Here is where we find the main mechanics of the game. You’ll use your airship to start a level, which you’ll sneak through while collecting money, hacking computers and avoiding (or beating) the cops that can one-shot you. When you’ve finished collecting all the money, or just as much as you feel like, you get back to your lander and take off back to your airship. Once at your airship you’ll spend your money on unlocking new abilities or upgrading current ones. For example, you’ll unlock the ability to hack computers, which is a combination of holding down a button while pressing directions on the joystick and usually rewards big bucks. You may unlock the ability to stop while sliding down the wall or to double jump. All of these abilities are going to serve you for gathering more money and progressing once you open up into the next security level.
When it comes to progressing through the security levels prepare yourself a small grind. Unlocking them is considerably more expensive than any of the abilities and, for me, required a couple dedicated run-throughs of The Slums in addition to the ones I already had done to unlock some abilities. The absolute saving grace for this is the fact that the levels are procedurally generated every single time, so you’re always faced with a fresh experience that you haven’t seen before. You have to remember, however, that every time you run a level it ticks one day off your counter – so while 100 days seems like a lot you will burn through them really fast.