By Angela Hinck / December 8th, 2014
|Title||The Marvellous Miss Take
|Publisher||Rising Star Games|
|Release Date||November 20, 2014|
It’s been a while since I’ve played a game that really relies on stealth as a major gameplay component. Lately, I’ve been mostly playing Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, which is pretty much the opposite (“beat ’em up quick” and “wherever you’re going, move fast” tend to be my gameplay rules). After making countless Smash runs over the past few weeks, it took some time for me to settle into the pace of The Marvellous Miss Take for PC. Ultimately, though, it was entirely worth it.
The Marvellous Miss Take is a stealth adventure title in which you play Miss Sophia Take. Her great aunt just passed away, and, according to her will, she should have left an extensive art collection to Sophia. But something has gone wrong: her great aunt’s will ended up in the hands of a greedy art tycoon who claims he has the rights to all of the masterpieces, and he intends to display them only in his galleries to a limited audience. With no other recourse, Sophia decides to steal back every piece of art and display it as it should be: free to everyone.
It’s up to the player to maneuver Sophia through each art gallery without being caught by a guard. Guards move around the gallery in a randomized pattern, and being apprehended by one is an instant Game Over. But this isn’t a game that asks you to rely on chance and just hope you won’t get caught. Miss Take is about distraction as much as it is about stealth, so there are many ways to sneak around guards or get them to move where you want them to. In the screencap below you can see that blue shaded area — that is the guard’s line of sight. Stay out of that, and you won’t be seen. Creep into it for a few seconds and get the guard curious enough to walk forward and investigate, allowing you to sneak around behind him. Don’t linger, though, because if you stay in their light of sight for too long, the guards will recognize you as a thief and will give chase. It’s very difficult to shake them off once they’ve started to run, which means it’s Game Over if you can’t quickly find a place to hide.
Sophia can also snag a guard’s attention by making noise. Sounds like a whistle or the sound of running footsteps will echo out around their source for a specified distance. If a guard is within that range, their curiosity will be piqued and they will move toward the sound. You have to be careful, though, because this can work against you. Running is faster than walking and might be necessary at times, but you could accidentally alert a guard to your presence while trying to avoid something else; doubling your trouble. This game is all about weighing your options and choosing which risks are worth the danger, and you’ll often have only a few seconds to decide what you need to do next.
The amount of guards in a given level will differ, as will the presence of other security features. There can be security cameras (which will set off an alarm if you remain in their sights for too long), dogs (which can pick up your scent and follow you around; get in their line of sight and they will bark, alerting a guard), and lasers (which will set off an alarm immediately). Luckily, Sophia also gets some handy gadgets to use in certain levels of the game to make her job easier. These can include recorders (to make noise in another area), glue (to slow down guards and dogs), smoke bombs (to hide Sophia from sight) and teleporters (to get you from point A to point B without having to walk there). The amount of times you can use any given item is limited, though. If you run out of uses, stealing more pieces of art from the gallery will refill the gauge.
The art is the goal of each level. Walking close to a glittering gold painting or sculpture will take that item from the gallery and add it to your inventory. Collect all art from the level, then make your way to the exit without being caught to move on. There are some in-game achievements you can get by meeting certain criteria, like not being detected once or finishing under a certain amount of time. There are also masterpieces in each level. These are optional art pieces that are protected by glass. Breaking the glass is loud, which could alert a guard or one of the gallery’s patrons, who will scurry off to find the closest guard and bring them to the source of the noise. The patrons are NPCs that wander around the galleries randomly and don’t normally notice your presence.
As you can tell, there is a lot to consider when going into a level of Miss Take. It’s a game that relies on quick thinking, patience and precision. Those first two things are up to the player to bring to the table, but the last item — precision — is something inherent to the game that is essential to a successful stealth title. Had the controls been looser or more complicated, this game would be a frustrating mess. Thank goodness that’s not the case. The controls are very simple and mouse-based: click where you want Sophia to go in the gallery and she’ll silently walk there. Hold down the left mouse button on that spot for her to run, moving more quickly, but making more noise. Click and hold the left mouse button on Sophia to have her whistle. Aim with the mouse then right-click to use a gadget. It’s all very simple and easy to remember, and Sophia almost always goes right where you want her to. There were unfortunately moments later in the game where I had a hard time getting Sophia into a corner or behind another object in just the right spot. This was frustrating, but, ultimately, it was a very minor issue.
Since the controls are good and do what they’re supposed to, I had a ton of fun playing this game. Some of the galleries are extremely difficult, but the rush you get from pulling off a super sneaky maneuver and finally getting to that last exit sign is more than worth the difficulties you encounter along the way. If you’re willing to take crazy risks and exercise extreme patience, the payoff is there.
Adding to the variety of gameplay are the two other playable characters, Harry and Daisy. You can replay levels with these characters that you have already played with Sophia. In fact, replaying levels with them is essential to progress through the game. Harry is a seasoned thief who sneaks in after dark to plunder art, but he can’t run and can only divert guards by throwing an item to make noise. You can’t leave the gallery without going back and picking that item back up though, so you have to be careful. Daisy is a pickpocket that Sophia convinces to help, but she’s not there to steal art. Her job is to steal the keys right out of a guard’s pocket and then use them to open safes full of important documents found in every gallery. She can run quickly, but opening a safe sets off a far-reaching alarm that brings the guards running.
These characters can speak to Sophia after every level you play with them, giving players an insight into the story and their relationships with one another. They’re all very likeable and build a close bond with Sophia by the end of the game, where you can unlock an epilogue for each of them. They were a great addition to the game from both a gameplay and story perspective. Speaking of the story, it’s pretty simple. There’s no cutscenes or extended dialogue. You mostly find out what’s happening via newspaper updates that you get after clearing a level or unlocking a new portion of the game. Headlines on the front page of the paper will tell you what the game’s antagonist is plotting, among some other plot-based things. Despite the simple plot and presentation, it never felt like the game was lacking in the story department. What do you get is fun and presented in a straightforward way. A bigger, more intensive story didn’t feel needed.
Helping to set the mood are the sound effects and music. All of the sound effects are well done and appropriate, from the dogs barking to the guards’ grumbles and shouts. The music has a mysterious noir vibe to it that is entirely appropriate for the game’s unique art style. There are a few different tracks that can play while you sneak around a gallery, and they always had the effect of making me feel like a properly suave thief. The visual style of the game is a sort of modern art deco, which works really well. Like the gameplay, it’s slimmed down and simple, but also interesting enough to catch your attention and be a lot of fun.
With Steam achievements to unlock and extra characters to replay levels with, The Marvelous Miss Take is a game packed with plenty of reasons to go back and keep playing after the first run. My first playthrough took about eight hours, which included finishing Sophia’s run and playing the minimum amount of levels with Daisy and Harry to proceed. Some might find the $19.99 price tag steep, but I would argue that this game is worth the cost for its quality and replay value.
Review Copy Supplied by Publisher.
Rising Star GamesThe Marvellous Miss TakeWonderstruck