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June 17, 2011

Review: The Heist for iPhone

Posted by on Jun 17, 2011

As everyone here knows, I am a lifelong gamer. Since my parents got us our first PC when I was four, I’ve been hooked, having played many, if not most of the major blockbuster titles throughout the years. I generally place these titles into four categories: bad, good, great, and so great I didn’t notice it was 5am. This last category should be self explanatory, but it is basically something so addicting that you don’t even stop long enough to realize that you haven’t stopped in a very long time. This last category is almost exclusively reserved for games created by Sid Meier, specifically the entire Civilization series as well as the lesser-known Alpha Centauri (a very similar title from 1998 set on a planet of the distant star. Go play it sometime). Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised when the latest offering from iPhone developers tap tap tap, The Heist, made its way into this pantheon of titles.

This is one of four different puzzle types available in The Heist

At it’s heart, The Heist is a puzzle game through and through. The premise is that you have have been tasked with hacking into a bank vault, and to do so, you have to solve a series of different puzzles. There are four main puzzle types that make up these challenges, and each is different and interesting enough to feel like its own distinct game. The slow learning curve presented by these puzzles is perfectly balanced to keep the puzzles solvable but challenging. They rarely took me more than five minutes to solve (the earlier ones taking far less than this), and the rewarding feeling from the accomplishment always had me ready to start the next puzzle, into the wee hours of the morning.

Aside from the standard puzzle elements, The Heist also has an excellent polish that really embraces the iPhone platform to seem as if you are really breaking into a vault. When I first started playing, my game was interrupted by a phone call. It was only on answering that I realized this was being simulated by the game, and I was actually being given instructions by one of the characters. This was done in such a seamless way, looking like the normal iPhone call interface, that my surprise at being contacted by a Russian spy was very real for a split second.

While it does feature spies, Pierce Brosnan is nowhere to be found.

My only real complaint about The Heist is that it isn’t longer. I managed to finish the main storyline in about 3 hours, at which point I’d completed half of the puzzles the game has to offer. I don’t need anymore story, but more of these puzzles (or an additional puzzle type) would be nice. I’d even pay for more. That said, I can’t complain about playtime too much, as when I beat the story mode, the contents of the vault was a Steam code for another free game! That’s right folks. For playing and beating this 99 cent iPhone game, you get a code for a $10 game for your Mac or PC, completely free. That’s like winning the Superbowl and being given a horse running in the Kentucky Derby…or something.

For more details on The Heist, visit the official webpage or pick it up on the Apple App Store for $0.99.