GRAND VAL­UES: MONACO

A stealth game for scoundrels put off by the genre’s com­plex­ity

EDGE - - GAMES SEC­TIONS -

Grand Val­ues: Monaco PS4, Xbox One

We’re crouched be­hind a large seated man in a white suit, try­ing to move some bot­tles on a per­ilously rat­tly dumb­waiter so that we can get at the guy’s fancy gold watch. The risky pick­pock­et­ing at­tempt plays out as a se­ries of minichal­lenges as we care­fully guide pro­tag­o­nist Amy’s hand through the nar­row path out­lined by the game’s UI, align a cir­cle while squeez­ing the trig­gers to shrink it onto a dot and trace a pair of arc­ing lines with both sticks si­mul­ta­ne­ously. A thump­ing heart­beat and brood­ing am­bi­ent sound­track up the ten­sion, be­fore Amy’s shaky breath­ing con­cludes with an ex­ha­la­tion of re­lief as we suc­cess­fully un­clip the time­piece. Now all we have to do is get back out of the build­ing.

It’s a won­der­fully tense cli­max to our sub­terfuge and a par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive, and in­volved, rep­re­sen­ta­tion of pick­pock­et­ing. Each time we nearly make a mis­take, Amy’s hands re­coil in step with our ana­logue stick with­drawal, and the mark’s oc­ca­sional coughs and shuf­fling make us pause mid-move­ment. Bearhands Games wants each steal to feel like a scene from a movie and, go­ing by this ex­am­ple, it’s suc­ceeded spec­tac­u­larly.

The plot scans like some­thing you might ex­pect to see in an Oceans film, too. Morally du­bi­ous Amy is a young cat bur­glar and pick­pocket who, along with her part­ners in crime Joe and Frank, has re­cently pulled off a dar­ing job on soon-to-be re­tired gang­ster Mag­nus. Flushed with suc­cess, the trio head off to Monaco to en­joy their riches in the sun. But, of course, Mag­nus de­lays his re­tire­ment and tracks them down, turn­ing up with hench­men and threat­en­ing ret­ri­bu­tion un­less Amy and her friends steal £50 mil­lion for him. With no other choice, the group em­barks on a crime spree to raise the cash.

Ahead of our watch heist, we made our way through a man­sion and its grounds, avoid­ing pa­trolling guards along the way. There’s no com­bat in Grand Val­ues, so if you get caught it’s game over. But Bearhands has worked hard to en­sure fail­ure isn’t too puni­tive, so you’ll in­stantly start again just me­tres from where you were eye­balled. It’s a pleas­ant change from the usual load­ing-screen wait and serves to both keep you in the zone and en­cour­age ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. The first area we at­tempt is a pic­turesque court­yard with a foun­tain at its cen­tre. One guard pa­trols around the cen­tre­piece, while an­other stands in the cor­ner. A locked gate pre­vents our exit, so we set about work­ing our way to the im­pos­ing-look­ing chap in the cor­ner who holds the keys. The con­trols are light­weight and sim­ple, a de­lib­er­ate at­tempt to ap­peal to play­ers put off by most stealth games’ com­plex­i­ties, and Amy is silent in all sit­u­a­tions un­less she breaks into a run. It’s a read­able and ac­ces­si­ble setup, lent a lit­tle dy­namism by dash and slide moves that en­able Amy to es­cape alerted guards. After a few at­tempts we lift the key from the guard – a process that uses the same pick­pock­et­ing me­chanic we even­tu­ally de­ploy on our mark – and progress far­ther into the com­pound.

The core busi­ness of sneak­ing and steal­ing will be ac­com­pa­nied by what Bearhands de­scribes as “climb­ing puz­zles”, which will have to be ne­go­ti­ated to break into your tar­get prop­erty – in the fin­ished game, the watch heist we play will be pre­ceded by a climb up the cliff the villa is perched on, for ex­am­ple.

Grand Val­ues: Monaco will be re­leased episod­i­cally in three parts next year, each with two marks and around three hours’ game­play. The breezy art style, the ap­proach­able take on stealth game­play and the smart pick­pock­et­ing me­chanic make it a game we don’t in­tend to let slink by un­no­ticed.

It’s a read­able and ac­ces­si­ble setup, lent a lit­tle dy­namism by dash and slide moves

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