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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Steal VCRs and cassettes from the 1980s in this open world thief sim

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The makers of popular thief simulator Thief Simulator are going back in time. American Theft 80s is the next open world thieving game from developer Noble Muffins, and there’s a free demo out now so you can start slipping into houses in the dead of night and filling your backpack with defunct electronics and cold hard cash.

Here in the 1980s you’ll be stealing a lot of VCRs (remember those?), cassette tapes (remember those?) and vinyl records (those are actually still around). The methods of breaking into people’s homes and relieving them of their possessions aren’t all that different in the past, however. Take a mission from your scuzzy crime boss, sneakily observe the residents of the home or business to learn their patterns and schedules, and then sneak in and steal the item you’re after. While skulking around for your target you can root around in drawers and nightstands for extra cash and items to fence so you can build up your bank account.

I’ve played about 90 minutes of the surprisingly extensive demo and I’ve already robbed a bunch of homes and businesses. Helping it all feel very scummy and gritty is that you’re not walking out with priceless paintings and precious jewels, but cheap stuff you can sell at a pawnshop to afford new tools like a crowbar to jimmy open windows or a hammer to smash off doorknobs. There are also disguises—I posed as an electrician and rang the doorbell of one house, and the resident let me in. I then stole a key to the door and slipped back in that evening to swipe a guitar, a tape deck, and a handful of cash.

Small items can go into your backpack, though there’s not all that much room, so raising your appraisal skill is important so you can identify which items will sell for a good price and which you should ignore. I really like that stealing bigger items, like a microwave or boxy ’80s television, requires you to carry them out in your hands, which is tricky when you’re trying to be stealthy. You’ll have to muscle it out a door or drop it out a window, then open the trunk of your car and place the item inside. You can’t crouch-walk while doing any of that, so you really need to keep an eye out for potential witnesses.

There are also more complex heists with multiple stages, plus a dirty cop in a dive bar who can sell you inside info on various residences and what expensive goods you’ll find there. And the citizens of the town you’re robbing blind are no pushovers. If they hear you they’ll come investigate, and if they see you they’ll call the cops (from a landline, presumably) or even try to capture you themselves. 

There’s no release date yet for American Theft 80s, but the Steam page says it’s “coming soon.”

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