The Marvellous Miss Take flips an otherwise dark and serious category of games on its head, with a lighthearted and colorful take on the Stealth genre.
The Marvellous Miss Take (PC)
Platform: PC, Mac
Release Date: 11/20/2014 (USA)
Developed by Wonderstruck
Published by Rising Star Games
The Marvellous Miss Take is a new, completely mouse-oriented heist game from Wonderstruck that caters to both newcomers, and seasoned veterans of the Stealth genre.
Rather than use the long-winded approach of cutscenes or the “wall of text”, the story is given to the player through newspaper headlines and short exchanges of dialogue between the three main playable characters. Madame Take is an art enthusiast in possession of several paintings and sculptures. Wealthy collector Ralph Blackstock attempts to purchase her collection for his own private galleries, however Madame Take refuses to go through with the bid, as she believes that art should be displayed in free galleries. Upon her death, ownership of the entire collection is transferred to her great-niece and only relative, Sophia Take. However, Blackstock undermines Sophia by claiming Madame Take’s last will as his own, splitting the collection between himself and other wealthy collectors across London. Sophia and a small team of specialized thieves take it upon themselves to steal back her rightful collection.
Much like the minimalist undertones of the game, the entire control scheme for The Marvellous Miss Take is kept to the mouse. Characters will walk to wherever the player clicks on the screen, as long as it’s an accessible area. Paintings, statues and usable items are automatically picked up when the character is close enough. While some of the later stages have several different usable items, each character is limited to holding only two of the same item at a time.
By holding down left-click, Sophia and Daisy will run to wherever the player clicks: Harry uses a cane and wears a knee brace; not only is he incapable of running, but his walking speed is much slower than the other two characters.
At the start of the second Chapter, the player will have access to three playable characters; protagonist Sophia Take, the “master thief” Harry Carver, and the pickpocket specialist Daisy Hobbs. Apart from being the main character, Sophia is capable of wielding several different gadgets and distractions in some stages, including smoke bombs, teleporters and portable speakers; while Harry is the slowest of the three, he can distract guards by throwing a ball against walls; Daisy can go undetected and pickpocket guards when very close, and use their keys to open safes.
Despite the incredibly simplistic control scheme, The Marvellous Miss Take is a deceptively challenging Stealth game. Genre veterans may find themselves scratching their heads, as the game often “forces” the player to be detected by guards. One of the core strategies of The Marvellous Miss Take involves the player getting intentionally detected, in order to lure guards away from the artwork in each level. Every guard has a visible cone-of-vision displayed on the floor; safe areas are either behind something that will break their line of sight, or in a shaded area behind low tables. Depending on how long the character stays within that cone of vision, guards will either grow “Suspicious” or go into a full-blown “Alert” phase: When guards are Suspicious- as indicated by a question mark- they will scout the player’s last known location and the surrounding area; Alerted guards will chase the player down until he/she is either captured, or has escaped their line of sight by hiding behind something.
While Sophia and Daisy have the option of running out of a guard’s line of sight, running gives off more noise, which can potentially alert guards within close range. Along with Harry’s previously mentioned ball, each character can make some kind of noise (a whistle, cough, etc.) that can distract and lure guards to a false location.
If the player opens a glass case or a wall safe, an alarm will sound, alerting all guards within its audible area. Security cameras also have their own cone of vision; if the player is spotted by a camera, all guards go into an Alert phase, and will rush the player no matter where he/she is in the level. Some levels include dogs that will pick up on the player’s scent, and will follow him/her around the level for a short period of time.
The Marvellous Miss Take may not be the most detailed PC game on the market, but it stands out among the crowd with its stylized presentation. The visuals have a caricatured sense of “upscale fashion”, much like fashion commercials that use cartoons- or better yet, the opening credits sequence of “The Nanny“. What character models lack in fine details, is made up in expression; players may pick up on Sophia’s confidence just from her walking animation, or the tired faces of guards- only to have them turn absolutely fierce at the sound of an alarm. The enthusiasm in the dogs after they’ve spotted the player is almost laughable.
The artwork heist experience of The Marvellous Miss Take is backed by a soundtrack consisting of several variants of jazz. Sophia’s missions are paired with softer clarinet-based tunes and swing, Harry’s midnight heists are backed with darker suspenseful tracks, while Daisy’s pickpocket missions are tense, featuring percussion and snare-heavy jazz. The whole ordeal feels like something from a European heist film.
The colorful visuals and fun, upscale atmosphere may seem out of place, but The Marvellous Miss Take is a much-needed, lighthearted entry into a genre dominated by gritty military and political themes. The controls and gameplay mechanics are simplistic enough for players new to Stealth games, while level execution can be a daring challenge, even for seasoned genre-veterans. The Marvellous Miss Take is an outstanding heist game that simply shouldn’t be overlooked by Stealth fans.