While it might be true that there are no new game genres left to invent, the proper mashing of genres can have truly magnificent results. Such is the case with stealth dungeon crawler Sneaky Sneaky, a marvelous little gem I discovered at this year’s Seattle Indies Expo when I was in town for PAX Prime.
The premise of Sneaky Sneaky is dead simple: you are a sneaky thief named Sneak, who along with their mouse companion Squeak has managed to pilfer a giant bag of rubies. However, some dastardly crows have absconded with their loot. Your job is to take control of Sneak, brave many dungeons over three unique worlds and reclaim what was not so rightfully yours.
While not a huge game by any stretch (the whole thing could probably be completed in a couple of hours), collectables and highscores do give good incentive to replay levels until you 100% them. There are also light RPG elements that allow you to level up and purchase upgrades for your movement, attacks and health. Play is relatively casual: all movements and attacks are made using a mouse, which makes it a perfect candidate for porting to mobile. However, the game is incredibly well-balanced, meaning leveling happens gradually and grinding is still an option if a particular level is giving you trouble.
The cute character designs and background art also add to Sneaky Sneaky’s accessibility, but players definitely shouldn’t confuse accessibility with “ease,” as there is surprising depth to Sneaky Sneaky’s strategy and gameplay. Because of the focus on stealth, combat, while always an option, often costs dearly and should be reserved for when there is absolutely no other choice. Sneak attacks are best, since they give the player first strike in the turn-based combat system, but sometimes just sneaking really is your best option. Rick’s observation that “the game is called “Sneaky Sneaky,” not “Stabby Stabby,” could not have been more accurate.
Although you can purchase upgrades when you level, they only go so far, so resource management is going to be essential to your strategy. Also, each level contains 5 – 6 dungeons, but you can only purchase items like health potions and monster bait at the start of the level.
However, while stabbing can be a good option if you’re hidden, the real joy of Sneaky Sneaky is in the archery mechanic. Obviously built to work well with mobile controls, you can take out foes from a distance with your trusty bow and arrow. To do so, you need to select Sneaky with the mouse and then draw back in the direction you want to shoot. Targeting is pretty precise, so you might need a little practice to get good, but man is it satisfying when you do make your shot.
Suitable for gamers of all skill levels, Sneaky Sneaky can be either a great gateway game for noobs like me, or a welcome break for hardcore gamers like Rick. I heartily recommend this absolutely charming indie game for anyone needing a little distraction this holiday season.
Sneaky Sneaky is available now on Steam for the absolute bargain of $5.49