Trials of the Thief-Taker

by Joey Jones profile

Historical
2017

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Number of Reviews: 2
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
A choicescript game heavy on history and consequences, August 6, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

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.