The Masterplan is a premier game developed by Shark Punch and has taken its interest from some legendary tactical turn based games and some of the best heist films. Set in the 70’s it allows you to take control of various criminals to try to pull off the greatest heist of all time. It’s a top down tactical real time action game that lets you slow down time to make more precise movements and actions. The game is currently on Steam Early Access for £10.99 and is probably one of the finest games I have played!
The graphics I have to say I really like, the game does have a great gritty feel to it with some really good background artwork. The setting looks amazing and each level looks different from each other. In terms of area’s important to the characters, the hideout you have at the start really does look like two guys who have started in their mother’s basement and I love that! I can’t wait until the day where you can completely upgrade your hideout.
As for the characters, they have some basic graphics in what they do and to differentiate them from each other, but it’s not a major factor and you can always tell which character is which because they have their name below them. To give the game more of a gritty feel, the colours used in the game are very dark and brown and in the earlier levels you really do feel like you’re playing in “the bad side of town”. On one of my later trips to a bank you can really see the change in the types of scenery, the bank is a lot more formal as you would expect, and the security was tighter. The colours were also slightly brighter and it made for a more atmospheric feel.
The soundtrack of this game is fantastic and I loved every little sound from the BGM to the punching noise, it all feels extremely well done. The background music is one of the big strengths of this game, when you’re casing a joint or trying to do something stealthy then it’s all very calm and elusive, but when things get more heated the music swiftly follows and it sounds like some old 70’s cop show music. It gives the game a really good vintage feel to it which I must say I’m loving at the moment. I really couldn’t find any faults with the sound so job well done!
Gameplay is the major factor for this game and it’s done very well. From the start you get a tutorial that shows you all of the interesting things the game can do, from cones of vision to how the security guards use the cameras to aid them, this tutorial will show you everything you need to know in order to pull off your first heist. The levels also have great progression, there is nothing too complicated in the first few levels and its only when you hit the jewellery store that you can really stretch out the tactical side of things. The tactics in this game can be as simple or as complicated as your imagination allows, you can control each character individually through point and click control, which can be clunky at times especially because you’re in such close quarters a lot of the time. However it does make taking hostages easier.
The characters have a vision cone and when you have a gun equipped anyone caught in that cone will be taken hostage and depending on their training they could be a hostage for as long as you point your weapon at them or a much shorter amount of time. The interesting thing about the hostages is that you can move and use them like your normal characters. When they are intimidated by you, the character can use them to unlock doors or drop what they are holding, then you can knock them out and get rid of the body in a bathroom and lock the door so that no one will ever find them. Classic!
Back to the tactics, in some games point and click tactics can be tricky unless you can set out a pre-determined path for the characters to take, this is something you can do in The Masterplan. What I found to be more useful was using the slow-mo mode. This means that you can plan things out, change weapons, who the character is aiming at, and adjust to any other situation that may arise. This is especially useful when everything goes balls up and you have to shoot your way out.
Although very helpful in terms of control, this can be a little complicated when it comes to moving through doors because if the door doesn’t fully open then you can lose the hostage or both characters get stuck on the same door. A different issue I have had recently is that my character keeps going invisible! It’s a little confusing when you are working on the greatest heist of your life and all of a sudden you lose one of your characters.
There are many brilliant things about this game and I am looking forward to seeing what else Shark Punch can bring to the table. I’m really enjoying playing it, consumed with trying to pull of the perfect heist. You can go in loud or quiet and it’s your choice of how you complete the heist which is something I love. The way that new levels are unlocked is that you find notes from other establishments throughout your level and you can then go to them and rob them too. One flaw I think need work is that there are no advantages or different rewards for going loud or quiet. If players were forced to make a choice out of these two for different incentives the game would be better for it. It’s all about risk and reward!
The Masterplan I have to say is a fairly complete game even though it is in Early Access. I would be happy if I had paid my money and this was the finished product, its not what I expected from an Early Access game and for that Shark Punch should be proud! I would advise anyone that likes heists, tactical top down shooters or just wildly interesting games to pick up The Masterplan!
+ Diverse Mechanics
+ 70’s Feel, Each Level is Different
+ Easy to Pickup and Play
– Game can be clunky at times
– Various bugs and glitches; to be expected for Early Access