(full review and score further down)
Picklock is a lot of fun for gamers on-the-go, and an interesting and simple concept overall. Hacking camera systems and breaking into facilities is simple but enjoyable. There's fun to be had in Picklock, but it's often marred by bad design choice; frustrating and unresponsive controls sometimes hinder what could otherwise be a great experience.
+ Graphics, missions, jazzy music
- unresponsive controls, camera
There's a lot to love about Picklock on the Nintendo Switch, and a few things that will make you want to throw your controller against the wall in rage. Developed by Deqaf Studio, Picklock is a cute, retro-style strategy/stealth game brought to screen in voxel formatting. You start as a seemingly ordinary man who can't get a break in life. He's no longer making the money he needs to lead a clean life, so he falls back on old habits and returns to his former life of crime; and what better way to start than to bring back his old nickname Picklock?
In Picklock there are over a dozen missions that will have you breaking into anywhere from a neighbor's house, movie theater, warehouse and more. You'll have to remaster the art of hacking security systems, and picking locks and windows in order to collect your stolen goods and make it out before getting caught-- which isn't too difficult since most of it is controlled with the A button. However, none of this could be possible without your administrator/liaison-- who also wears a third hat as the local pawnshop owner. The pawnshop owner finds Picklock assignments, and in return will expect him to bring back the valuables his wealthy clients have requested. And you keep all the money you find.
Each mission brings newer and more grueling puzzle-like challenges that become quite intense and nerve-racking early on. Luckily, Picklock carries a drone that can provide an overhead view with a tap of the Y button along the way. The drone not only helps to spot each treasure in any given mission, it also unveils guards' assigned paths and resting points. Resting points are important to watch and memorize, as some are labeled with numbers that indicate the amount of time each guard will wait in any given spot. These times are designed to allow you planning time to hack cameras, find keys, steal valuables, and make a clean getaway.
Watch out! One wrong move and the police will be called in, and that could mean game over, or at the very least a much harder run.
There are numerous challenges to overcome along the way. From avoiding guards, shop owners, security camera and more, there's always something to keep your peeping eyes on in Picklock that will have you at the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Watch out! One wrong move and the police will be called in, and that could mean game over, or at the very least a much harder run. And without checkpoints, it's almost mandatory that you make a perfect run, and report back to the pawnshop owner with his clients' assigned goods, or you may have to start the mission over.
It's all fun and games until the controls hurt your perfect run. Picklock suffers from horrendously stiff controls. Picklock (the man) can often get hung on walls, stuck in door jams, or stops moving entirely while sneaking down a staircase if the camera isn't angled properly. The voxel perspective design choice is going to be one of your bigger challenges to face outside all the various mission obstacles. I could never get the right angle to get into a door or sneak past a guard without readjusting or rotating the camera constantly. This hurts when every second is of the essence and many areas later on rely on your speediness and require a near-perfect run. However, the biggest enemies weren't the relentless police or badgering guards, but just opening doors. The controls, which consist mainly of hitting the A button to steal valuables, hack systems, and open doors isn't as responsive as it should be when someone is bound to come around the corner and spot you at any second.
Overall, Picklock is an interesting concept with frustrating controls that boarder on maddening. But even after losing at missions several times, I still kept wanting to go back and try again. I could imagine this game being great for gamers on-the-go or on a road trip-- which makes it great for a system like the Nintendo Switch, as the challenging missions could distract anyone for a very long time.
A game code was provided for this review from the publisher for Nintendo Switch.