Filthy Lucre has a simple premise, your boss has had a bunch of items and money stolen from him by another gangster and he wants you to steal it all back and eventually kill the men responsible. Unfortunately the word simple is the best word used to describe the game, not in difficulty, but mechanically.
Played in a top down perspective, the player needs to sneak around the level and complete a primary objective. If they want the player can complete various secondary objectives and challenges. The secondary objectives are roughly the same on each level, steal this, destroy that etc. The challenges have more variety such as kill a certain amount of guards or use a specific gear in the level. Every level always has the same challenge of not getting detected. The reward for completing each secondary objective and challenge is the same, more money and more XP to rank up. With the money and XP the player can unlock and buy various pieces of gear, items to help you complete a level such as throwing knives and EMPS, or weapons that range from your usual guns to even a crossbow. Honestly though, there is no point using a non-silenced weapon, it will only cause you more trouble. The player has a limited loadout, the player can only take two guns and two gear items. The choices are fine, nothing that really stands out. However there is one gear item I really do not like, and I feel hinders game-play. The body hider. You would think a game like this, one that focuses so highly on stealth, would give the player the ability to hide the bodies as a game mechanic, and not a onetime use gear item. You don’t even get the mechanic till later in the game, and by then you are so used to not needing it you don’t see the need to equip it. But what if I did decide to equip it, would I find it useful? No. Once it’s used on one body, that’s it, no way to replenish your supply in that particular level. In a way I can appreciate the game is trying to make it harder for you, but it’s just plain old annoying. Now you may be thinking it’s not a big deal to not have a body hider mechanic in the game, but let me explain to you why it is.
It all has to do with the AI. The game features semi intelligent AI, they notice when an item they are guarding has been stolen, and they do a good job of searching the level when they notice something is wrong. For an indie game, I started pretty impressed. So how does this link with a way of hiding bodies? Well the AI is magical. Well no, not really but they somehow are. Let me explain. So you are playing the level, you are doing pretty well. You are observing the enemies patrol patterns and notice the enemy walks back forth between two points. You’re a more brutal player, I’m not judging you for wanting to kill, so you take him out. Can’t hide the body and you have not equipped the body hider gear, so you hunt down anyone in the area and kill them. There is 100% no way anyone can stumble upon the body. Awesome. Ten minutes later and two floors down your doing pretty good, no one has noticed you and no one has called in for reinforcements. You have nailed this level, good job you! But then it all goes wrong, somehow two floors up the bodies have been found. You know the ones I am talking about, the ones you were so sure could not be found. How were they found? I don’t know. Before you know it, reinforcements are being called in, everyone is searching for you and you either have a high enough wanted level you have to escape before completing the objective or you die. Either way you have failed. This could all have been avoided with a built in mechanic to hide as many bodies as you want. Now you may read this and think “Duh, it’s there to make the game harder!” Well there is a fine line between making a game hard and being unfair, especially when we as a player have spent years being taught by stealth games to hide our kills. Still think it sounds fine and it’s a good design choice by the developer, then give it a shot. It’s just not for me, and I am willing to bet it’s not for most people.
So let’s look at some of the games positives. The design of the games levels are great, with some flaws, but nothing major. Many of the levels have multiple floors, the player navigates them by picking locked doors, avoiding cameras and enemies, using vents to move room to room and stealing security cards to unlock doors. You may finally make it to the third floor and realize the card you need is on floor one, it forces you to explore every inch of the level. While the player can crouch and hide behind a wide range of objects in the level, there is limited actual places where a hiding animation plays and the player moves in between two objects to be completely out of sight. The game needs a greater range of places to hide, and they need to be obvious. I only found out they existed by accident, and the game only tells you in a blink and you will miss it, image in the loading screen. I think it’s clever that the enemy actually calls in back up when they notice dead bodies. Too many games handle this by making the enemies alert and that’s it. In Filthy Lucre, cause too much trouble and eventually enemies that are hard to beat will appear and you have no choice but to exit the level as quickly as possible. This game is hard core stealth, I couldn’t imagine completing a level going in guns blazing.
I say that, however I do feel like the game sometimes forces you to go loud. There are some enemies you can’t stealth kill, and they are standing in front of the only door in, not patrolling. It’s not a huge deal if you have the noise maker equipped or there is an object nearby to distract them, but if there isn’t and you have no gear on you to distract people, you have no choice but to kill them. Depending on the loadout, you may not be able to kill them quick enough before they get a shot off. The moment the enemy starts shooting everyone nearby is alert and that could lead to you failing. I appreciate the game giving you choice, but no matter what your loadout consists of, the player should always be able to complete a level without killing. A player should not have to quit a level and change their loadout and retry again. What’s the point in choice if you are forced in to using specific gear and weapons? The game really tries to give you choice, but some of it is pointless or needs to be tweaked. You can pick your player avatar, but none of them offer a reason to pick them. Just another example of pointless choice. All these slight tweaks would make for a better game. Wouldn’t you want the choice to pick a player based on your style, for example one player avatar that has a high stealth level but weak shooting or a player that is very good at shooting and can carry extra ammo but has a lower stealth level?
I have written a great deal in this review, unfortunately mainly negative, but even as I write this conclusion I still have more to say. I haven’t mentioned the art which while simple and slightly bland, is used in clever ways. The player often returns to a different part of the same building, the art design makes each level within the building feel different. I didn’t get much chance to speak about the co-op, a boasting feature of the game. A quick sum up of it: no one ever joined my public game and I never found anyone’s to join. Not the games fault in a way, just means not many people are playing it online. There is nothing about the game that is bad, it’s just a little above alright. Lacking in features and simple, it’s a fine game to play. That’s it. Just fine.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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