Managing four crew members at once, trying to make sure everything goes down at the right time--that this guy hits a switch right as another crew member reaches the door, and that she then turns the cameras off before the first one hits the hallway--is intimidating.
Even the first level tosses multiple guards your way, one of which patrols back and forth between you and your immediate objective. Then the second level comes up and it looks like this:
I've come to think of levels in Crookz as massive knots. I'm slowly untangling one strand at a time--flip a switch here, pick a lock there, and somehow you start making progress. You take it one room at a time. You take it one guard at a time.
Except you're also forced to pay attention to the entire map, too. Before you enter the level you'll need to know exactly how many camera jammers to buy. Too many and you're burning your profits. Too few and you'll be left stranded in the middle of a high-security bank. And those guards you knocked out? They're going to wake up, and they're going to come looking for you.
It's tough to unravel Crookz, and that's not a bad thing. Call it high effort, high reward. As I watched my crew plod towards the exits post-heist, a bundle of cash in their jackets, I felt an absurd sense of pride. I felt like I really had pulled off the perfect crime. Or if not a perfect crime, at least one where nobody got thrown in jail. This is shaping up to be my favorite stealth game since Mark of the Ninja, and for much the same reasons--it gives you the tools, it gives you the information you need, and then it lets you figure out a plan and execute.
The full game's out August 25. If you've ever wanted to feel like the least competent Keyser Soze, keep an eye out.
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