When it comes to VR games, immersion is the most important thing I can think of. Whether it’s the way Half-Life: Alyx brings you into a virtual world like few have ever seen via its amazing graphics and physics system or how Blade and Sorcery figuring out how it should feel to plunge a sword into your opponent chests, each of the standout VR titles make you truly feel like you are at the reigns of whatever activity the game is based on. Even if the game isn’t some gargantuan title, the feel of immersiveness can make a decent indie title into something that can contend with the technology giants. This brings us to Thief Simulator VR. While you’re not going to get the glitz and glamor of the above titles, you’re going to get something that is 100 percent unique and feels like its own niche which it fulfills quite well. It’s time to hop into the shoes of a small-time crook.
Thief Simulator VR starts you off in a little tutorial area where you learn the ins and outs of gameplay. This section is necessary because there is quite a bit of nuance that goes into what seems like a relatively straightforward title here. The inventory system is among the most important to get a grasp on and anyone who has played The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners will be right at home here as the backpack system is remarkably similar. The immersion in Thief Simulator VR is pretty great as everything you’re going to be doing is physics-based. You want to grab that crowbar? Well, go ahead and grab it then, you want that window broken? How about that lock picked? Then get smashing and picking. Everything a thief needs to do here, you’re going to be physically doing and that goes a long way in covering up the obvious lacking areas like Graphics and some overall jankiness.
What it Feels like to Play
Thief has a uniquely addicting gameplay loop that I would liken to something like Payday VR minus the combat capabilities. The setup for each mission goes like this, you’re given a mission description which is usually along the lines of “Go steal this for me”, it’s a simple setup, but for the means, this game looks to satisfy, it’s perfectly fine. You start off with small-time stuff like stealing from tiny little houses and then work your way up to more intimidating fare like mansions. It’s fun stuff and with each mission, you gain more and more money enabling you to purchase tools to help you complete your heists like lockpicks, cameras, binoculars, etc. While the setup and graphical quality seem simple at first, you’ll soon be looking into online databases for tips on how to rob certain houses, scoping out people to learn their schedules, and MUCH more. This game isn’t called a simulator just to be cute, it’s very much a simulation of being a thief. That means if you make too much noise, get caught, or even crouch physically at the wrong time, the cops show up and you’re going to jail. Things get even more complex once you have to do things like stripping cars for parts, figuring out which items to take or leave behind and more enticing scenarios as well. Once you get past the opening levels that feel more like tutorials, the game opens up, letting you take on these robberies any way you see fit. I don’t want to verge on hyperbole, but this is to thieving games what Metal Gear Solid V is to tactical espionage games, it’s that great gameplay-wise.
What Will Keep you Playing
Usually the VR games we review here will keep you coming back with the promise of being a great workout but necessarily a ton of content. Forget that notion. Thief Simulator is a full-on game and that means you’re looking at upwards of 20 hours or so of content, much of which is quite difficult and will require multiple tries unless you’re a professional thief by chance. The variety and options for you to complete your missions are massive and the ways you can attack each objective change depending on your playstyle and that alone provides multiple playthroughs of each scenario. You can make the game as hard or as easy as you’d like based on what tools you take with you and what tips you choose to pay for or not. It’s a niche type game for sure, but if you ever wondered what it would be like to be a thief, this is the best way to get your kicks
You’re going to be doing a ton of reaching and swinging and ducking during your playtime here so I’d advise clearing a 360 space around you so nothing gets damaged and also possibly use a workout mat to give yourself a sturdy base to stand and crouch on when needed.
I recorded my 30-minute workout using a Fitbit on a Samsung Odyssey Plus Windows Mixed Reality Headset.
Calories burned: 207
Calories burned per minute: 7
Average Heart Rate: 103
Max Heart Rate: 130
Active Minutes: 23
Thief Simulator isn’t the most intense VR game out there, but it provides tons of pulse-pounding moments in a way you’re probably not accustomed to as there aren’t that many stealth titles in VR that come close to this level of immersion. The intensity comes more from the situation and not the physical actions taking place. But for my money, carefully trying to sneak into a high-security mansion to steal a valuable item is every bit as intense as a round of Beatsaber.
There won’t be a ton of consistent motion happening throughout Thief Simulator VR because, well, have you ever heard of an effective thief who flails his arms about nonstop? Didn’t think so! Where your arms will come into play though is breaking windows, picking locks, steering cars, climbing into houses, stripping car parts, disconnecting devices and stealing items. It’s a surprising amount of arm work for what is usually a measured experience. After a few missions, you will definitely feel some wear on your wings, and you can amplify this effect if you choose to do missions in a speedy fashion. The physics of the game have been painstakingly detailed though and it’s impressive stuff for a game that originally took place on the flat screen.
Surprisingly, you’re going to find yourself getting a great leg workout in during your time with Thief Simulator VR because of one reason, crouching. You have the option to toggle real-life crouching on or off, but for the immersive and physical experience in this game to really shine through, you should leave it on. Crouching in this game is imperative to success because even the slightest slip up can cause the pedestrians on the street or the house owners to call the cops on you, ruining your whole mission. It’s a tough task to do this effectively and I’d recommend a thorough stretch before any planned prolonged play session.
Core and Balance- 6/10
No action in this game will work out your core all that much besides the crouching, but balance wise? There is quite a bit of that needed here. Whether you’re climbing into a house or trying to crouch while reaching for an item just barely in arms reach while scanning the area for people nearby, you’re going to need to keep your balance here for sure. I found it particularly tough to keep my balance while driving of all things, so it’s recommended that you perform this action while sitting down and just role-play it a bit since nobody drives while standing up in general.
Time Perception- 10/10
Thief Simulator VR puts most games to shame on the platform when it comes to immersion and playability. Seeing as you won’t tire out too fast while playing, you can expect to find yourself in multiple-hour play sessions if this particular style of stealth-based gameplay suits what you’re looking for. The lack of physical effort mixed with the growing intrigue surrounding the stakes raising for each mission and just what item you’ll be able to unlock next means that this will be a tough game to stop playing. The graphics are also very easy on the easy and you won’t have to worry about particle effects or eye strain putting an end to your fun sooner than you’d have hoped.
If content is what matters most to you, then Thief Simulator VR will blow you away. Originally in Early Access, it seemed this would be a stripped-down version of the original game. It’s not even close to stripped down in its final form and it comes with all of the bells and whistles you’d expect from a full-fledged release. There are upwards of 20+ hours to play through and the best part is each mission can be played through with different gadgets leading to completely different ways that they will play out. I loved the variety and freedom given to you and that goes a long way in creating replay value.
Fitness Scalability- 6/10
There isn’t a ton you can do here to increase your workout. This really isn’t the kind of game you engage in to get a workout though, even with the ability to burn a few calories per each playthrough. You can opt to turn the real-life crouch function on and off which should amplify or ease own your workout considerably, though that’s really the only option available that does something like that.
Dizziness/ Lack of Nausea- 9/10
My experience with Thief Simulator VR was flawless in terms of nausea or dizziness. There are plenty of movement options available for those who have trouble with smooth locomotion and turning, so all will be accommodated here in that department. The one issue I had was with the driving which can be a bit jerky to control and I often crashed my car or spun out giving me quite a bit of nausea, but that might just be because I suck at VR driving and not the actual fault of the game itself. Overall, it’s a very smooth experience with little reason to make you feel sick.
Social Competition- 0/10
There are no social features included in this game as it was designed as a single-player experience. There will be no points deducted because of this.
VR Fit Score- 7.6/10
- Your legs will get a solid workout here
- There’s plenty of intensity to keep the heart rate up
- Replayability is endless here
Game Score- 8.5/10
- The best game of its genre
- The immersion is unreal and no detail is spared
- has surprisingly in depth gameplay for what looks like a plain title at first glance
Thief Simulator VR is a raw and honest experience that puts you in the shoes of a petty thief and goes into great detail when showing the player exactly what that would entail. The content offered is incredible and gives you hours of gameplay if you’re looking for it. The physics are very impressive considering this was originally a flat-screen game. It’s never too easy or too hard and really challenges you to think and be perceptive of your surroundings with very little handholding. You’re able to play through the missions using any gadgets you want which adds a ton to the replayability. The detail that goes into what might appear as a plain game at first is astounding and you’ll demand other developers care as much about their product as the developer GameBoom VR clearly did.
The gameplay is very methodical and requires you to be fast on your feet as well as your mind, so this style might not suit everyone, and those expecting combat can forget about any Grand Theft Auto type shenanigans here, it’s strictly stealth or you’re done for. The graphics are pretty weak admittedly and resemble something that might’ve come out in 2017 when VR was first getting going, so if you’re expecting a visual feast on par with Half-Life: Alyx, this ain’t it. A lot of the gameplay revolves around planning your thievery, so this can get a bit boring if you’re not into all the specifics that this simulation is trying to show you.
Thief Simulator VR is available on Steam for $19.99 and playable on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index, and Windows Mixed Reality Headsets.