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The Swindle is a steampunk, 2D side-scrolling game about heists. It is set in London in 1849 and the player takes control of a master burglar. In 100 days Scotland Yard will activate The Devil's Basilisk, advanced artificial intelligence technology that will massively improve surveillance and make theft almost impossible. Therefore the thief has 100 days to steal the Basilisk and prevent it from being activated.

The master burglar is never seen in the game and does not take part in the action. Instead he sends out lower thieves to perform heists. A thief is sent down from an airship, the main hub, using a pod. When the heist is successful the thief can return to the airship with the haul where the money can be spent in five skill trees: agility, abilities, tools, goggles and miscellaneous. The game consists of six main locations that are randomly generated for level design, enemies and items with each new heist. By earning money the main goal is to buy additional security clearance, opening up new locations, until the Basilisk can be stolen in the final location to win the game. The six main locations are The Slums, Warehouse District, New Belgravia, Casino Town, The Banks, and The Swindle. Each started heist, whether successful or not, takes up a single day. The game is lost if the Basilisk is not stolen in 100 days because the game ends after that limit. Each new location provides opportunities to steal a lot more money, but also introduces more difficulty security and more dangerous guards. That way the game challenges the player to take calculated risks. By saving up it is possible to move on to harder locations quickly, but the money can also be spent on various perks that make the heists easier instead. The thief characters can die or be terminated and a random one is then generated for each new heist after an unsuccessful one. The player is however encouraged to carry on with a single character as an experience bonus is provided for completing consecutive heists with the same thief. Bonus are also provided for completing levels without being spotted (ghost) and rewarding aptitude.

Each heist takes place in a side-scrolling, fairly small area with connected rooms. There are various approaches through doors, climbing pipes, creating entrances with bombs or smashing windows. The character can move around and jump. By upgrading elements in the agility skill tree additional options can be unlocked and often be upgraded multiple times, such as wall jumping and clinging to walls, double jumping and stealth. Most early enemies have a line of sight that is visible to the player, but from New Belgravia onwards enemies with a microphone icon are sensitive to sound and then the slower sneaking method has to be used for movement. Enemies can be taken out by whacking them. Some enemies require multiple hits and others cannot be destroyed permanently with the regular weapon. Unlockable abilities include a hacking skill to disarm bombs, open doors and open cash machines. This is done through a short mini-game where the player has to follow the directions on the screen to press one of four directions, sometimes multiple times. When a mistake is made while disarming a bomb, it explodes right away, killing the thief. Other abilities are bionic eyes, improved hacking, barging through doors and so on. Many different tools can also be unlocked that can be selected during heists. They are bombs to blow through walls, steam purge to use a cloud that obscures vision, bugs that syphon funds, EMPs and so on. Many of these have a limit or use a separate meter that takes some time to recharge. It is possible to switch between tools at any time during a level and they are all available when unlocked. There are also four types of goggles to unlock and other technology such as jamming radio transmissions or improvements for tools and abilities.

When a thief is killed, no money is gathered from that heist and a new one needs to be sent out. All levels offer multiple approaches through the tools and abilities. Doors can be opened or closed, many elements can be hacked and custom passages can be created with bombs. Each location introduces new elements to levels and new types of enemies that need to be analyzed. When the thief is spotted, the alarms are sounded right away. All enemies then become much faster and more aggressive. The funds in the levels are then also drained gradually to move them elsewhere. The thief can however still finish the level by returning to the pod, but has to watch out for a powerful police character that soon arrives. It has some roguelike elements (character permadeath, random levels), but perks are permanent and carried over to a new thief as long as there are days left. Perks are also bought specifically and are not offered from a random selection.


The Swindle Windows Moving over the roof, looking for another way in.
The Swindle Windows Up to six locations can be unlocked eventually.
The Swindle Windows Your tools can also be used against you: here someone is siphoning money from your bank account.
The Swindle Windows The upgrade screen with the skill trees in the airship

Promo Images

The Swindle Screenshot
The Swindle Screenshot
The Swindle Screenshot
The Swindle Screenshot


Alternate Titles

  • "The Swindle: A_Steampunk_Cybercrime_Caper" -- Tag-lined title

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Critic Reviews

Game Watcher Windows Aug 04, 2015 8 out of 10 80
PC Gamer Windows Jul 26, 2015 80 out of 100 80
Destructoid Windows Jul 31, 2015 7.5 out of 10 75
Video Chums PlayStation 4 Aug 03, 2015 7.2 out of 10 72 Wii U Sep 17, 2015 7 out of 10 70
Games TM Xbox One 2015 7 out of 10 70
Games TM Windows 2015 7 out of 10 70
Nintendo Life Wii U Sep 10, 2015 7 Stars7 Stars7 Stars7 Stars7 Stars7 Stars7 Stars7 Stars7 Stars7 Stars 70
PCGamesN Windows Jul 31, 2015 6 out of 10 60
TrueAchievements Xbox One Aug 14, 2015 2.5 out of 5 50


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Contributed to by Kam1Kaz3NL77 (306396) and Sciere (689794)