Review: The Marvellous Miss Take

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It fits, thematically-speaking, to be taken unawares so wholeheartedly by something so damn charming. There’s me, lumbering about like the proverbial security ape, swinging a myopic cone of intrigue about, catching sight of this alluring creature. Unlike said security disappointment, Wonderstruck’s The Marvellous Miss Take is anything but negative. In fact, it’s damn fantastic.

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I was trying to find the most apt living relatives to describe this retro-styled art heist game, and there are undoubtedly combination cocktails far more illustrative than what I’m conjuring. Metal Gear Solid meets Carmen Sandiego, I smugly tweeted earlier. Snake’s PSone outing, primarily because it uses much of the same mechanics. Line of sight, delayed recognition, use of noise and the like. Carmen Sandiego? Well, the influence is really only due to Sophia Take’s magnificent hat, and thus tenuous at best. Visually, the game bears resemblance to Dynamighty’s effort from earlier in the year, CounterSpy and, perhaps more closely, Warchest’s F2P strategy game RAD Soldiers. Stylised characters, fastidiously accentuated animations and a cohesive user interface. Miss Take is a bit of a coup if measured solely on looks.

But cleanliness is not merely a visual prerogative. Miss Take is wholly and solely mouse-controlled. In essence, it controls much like Diablo or any other ARPG. You click somewhere, Sophia – or another unlocked character – goes to that position. You hold down the button at a particular location, they run to that location, with each footfall creating a radius of sound. Then, you’ve got specific distractions, such as whistling or hurling noise-makers. Other items, like short-range teleporters, help keep the momentum up. And much to the game’s credit, Miss Take is a stealth game with absolute momentum.

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The isometric viewpoint and bright, stylised architecture keeps things really simple – especially coupled with the crisp iconography. Old standbys like vision cones, sound radii, alert statuses and the like are expertly effected, so there’s no confusion as to where a player is and their impact on the immediate surroundings. As such, that momentum becomes not just the realm of power players, but achievable by everyone. Zipping around levels, even against the dynamic paths of security, is fluid and turns on a dime. Automated ducking when next to display tables makes split-second manoeuvring far more approachable than fumbling with a button to snap to cover, in the more established conventions of the medium.

But let it be known that Miss Take is far from a cruise-controlled casual affair. I found myself experimenting with different routes to sweep levels of their gallery goods, and often coming into the clutches of marauding security goons. They’re far more tenacious than your average MGS footman, and the player’s ability to herd them via sound or the breaking of glass on encased exhibits is countered by their natural, somewhat rail-less patrol routes. Add in cameras and other patrons, and you’ve got quite a hazardous field of play for noble thievery.

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That, and levels can be returned to in the dead of night to snag further pieces of artwork. So, much to like and pinch.

Wonderstruck have done a terrific job in all areas with The Marvellous Miss Take. It’s the perfect game to bang out a level here or there, and doesn’t fare badly in a binge. If you’re looking for a fast stealth effort that doesn’t have you waiting for the proverbial train to roll by, then you could do far worse than this. One of 2014’s biggest surprises. Don’t let it slip by, unless you work in a gallery.