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About the Story
In London, 1729, before they had police, they had you: thief-takers, hunting criminals for cash! Fire a flintlock and sip gin in the age of powdered wigs. Will you grow rich catching smugglers and highwaymen, show mercy, or become a crime boss yourself?
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Number of Reviews: 2
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I've been approaching this game and review with some trepidation. I've known Joey Jones for quite some time and admired his work (including the excellent Sub Rosa and the short but sweet Andromeda Dreaming). I was also aware that this game, like my own, was shorter and less-discussed in the forums and reviews than many recent Choicescript games. I was worried about writing a negative review for a game that took a great deal of effort from someone I respect.
I was pleasantly surprised by this game, though. I think I understand why it's less talked of by the fanbase. The best-selling Choicescript games are decadent games where there are no wrong choices and no consequences, power is yours to grab, a half-dozen people are interested in you romantically, and ultimately you have power over everything. These games aren't bad, but they have common themes.
This game goes against almost all of those things. You are essentially a bounty hunter in a grim London. You have very little money (or a lot of debt). You are frequently powerless. Romance is scarce. Each attempt at solving (or committing) a crime has a high chance of failure, and often there is only one right path to victory in a given situation. Your actions often lead to brutal deaths, and there are grim reminders of the harsh conditions of 18th century London everywhere.
But I found those same features intriguing, especially after playing a few silly-hijinks games in a row. The writing is historical and ornate, like water from an oaken bucket. The setting and language are meticulously researched, as is the money system and the kinds of people involved.
It's a fast-paced game. There are 11 chapters, I believe, but they went by quickly for me. However, this game has more replay value than most, due to its difficult puzzles. The fairness of these puzzles is a bit in question; could someone solve them without any prior knowledge? Some of them I did, but not others.
The most enjoyable part of my playthrough was freeing ten people from prison to join my gang, and learning their backstories. The most disturbing part of my playthrough was trying to decide whether to help the family of a condemned man to kill him faster or not to end his suffering.
I received a review copy of this game.
I really enjoyed Trials of the Thief-Taker. It's probably the first ChoiceScript game I've been engaged by and replayed several times. I was initially drawn to it because of my love of historical London, and it doesn't disappoint.
Thief-Taker isn't really as open world as it purports to be in the description, which actually works in its favor. While the game is an episodic string of catching outlaws, there's a compelling linear story throughout, mainly involving the two possible love interests. Romance isn't a big focus, but I found there was just enough here to be satisfying.
Most every choice you make affects your stats, and there were times when I genuinely found the game difficult, which was surprising. The story is very responsive to choices, with events playing out differently based on previous decisions. And it's possible to role play a character; I enjoyed playing as a now penniless member of the landed gentry, who's still a snob despite being destitute, has a fancy flat, an obscene amount of debt, and spends money foolishly when he does manage to earn some. Luckily, thief-taking can pay very, very well.
Some negatives: it's a little odd for the story to play out the same regardless of how good a thief-taker you are or not; some parts assume the PC is at least a decent thief-taker, even if your targets apprehended is, erm, zero.
At one point you leave town for a bit, and have to choose how much money to bring with you. Even with -£8 to my name, I was able to bring half of it; it goes without saying that being able to bring -£4 with me doesn't make much sense.
Finally, horse buying: I would have appreciated a straight forward list of horses for sale, instead of choosing an intention for how much I might want to spend. Basically, a little more heads up when I'm about to be spending £100 on something.
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