Picklock Review: Stolen Control

Being fed up with a life of working a dead-end yet honest job is basically the mentality of almost every working-class citizen. Unless it’s a passion, even if you love your job, there’s a decent likelihood that you’d still prefer to not have to work at all, if given the choice. Such is the case for the playable character in Picklock, from Decaf Studio. Originally released on PC, Picklock brings its small-time petty crimes to Nintendo Switch in a title that has a lot of great ideas, but falls a bit flat on the portable console.

Picklock puts you in the shoes of a reformed robber who decides to re-enter the burglary racket after spending time and being bored (and broke) with his legitimate nine to five job. From robbing houses in his own neighborhood to larger and more heavily guarded stores and factories in other areas around the city, you need to steal everything in sight without getting caught. And that’s… pretty much it.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise given the game’s minimalistic (and pixelated) design, as well as the simple introductory cinematic that tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the player-controlled character. As you successfully loot more houses and stores – forcing the in-game world to begin upping their security measures – you’ll encounter more difficult levels that will require you to think a few steps ahead in order to avoid being caught. While the stealthy missions and puzzles do present a formidable challenge, that’s not what makes Picklock such a difficult game to play on Switch. That honor, unfortunately, goes to the controls.

The controls in Picklock are rough, to say the least. Admittedly, the control scheme itself is intuitive enough to pick up quickly, but actually controlling the master thief and interacting with objects can be frustrating. Although I am able to control the camera quite smoothly, I often find myself walking in an unintended direction, which, at worst, means walking right into the line of sight of a security guard. Additionally, when trying to loot items or interact with objects such as doors, I have to be looking directly at whatever I am trying to interact with. There’s next to no wiggle room in terms of proximity, requiring me to look nearly perfectly at the object. This can be tricky with the nature of the loose Joy-Con controls. I can’t help but feel like there is probably a bit more control in the PC version of the game – at least, I hope that’s the case.

Besides the simple visuals (I’m a sucker for pixelated 3D worlds), one thing that does stick out for me is the game’s soundtrack. The jazzy musical score is a nice changeup from the more intense music that is generally featured in these types of stealth games. The puzzles themselves aren’t overly stressful, but there are certainly moments of heightened intensity and panic. The musical tracks just help to keep things a bit more grounded.

Given the recent release of Grand Theft Auto Online’s new Cayo Perico heist, it was hard for me to not at least slightly compare that game with Picklock during my playthrough. Granted, the overarching differences from visuals to scope are night and day, but they share the same sort of fundamental heist characteristics. Both require setup and resources to complete the job. Both have an in-game world beyond just level-based heists. Obviously, Picklock is on a scale that is significantly less than GTA Online, but I couldn’t help but pick up those same sorts of Los Santos vibes (and that’s a good thing).

Picklock isn’t a bad game, and – despite some localization woes – is actually packed with some great ideas. They just don’t quite make the connection for me, at least not on Nintendo Switch.

A Switch copy of Picklock was provided to TheGamer for this review. Picklock is available now for Nintendo Switch and PC.

NEXT: GTA Online – How To Start The Cayo Perico Heist

  • Game Reviews
  • Nintendo Switch
  • Picklock

Sam has been writing for TheGamer since early 2018, earning the role as the Lead Features & Review Editor in 2019. The Denver, Colorado-native’s knack for writing has been a life-long endeavor. His time spent in corporate positions has helped shape the professional element of his creative writing passion and skills. Beyond writing, Sam is a lover of all things food and video games, which – especially on weekends – are generally mutually exclusive, as he streams his gameplay on Twitch (as well as TheGamer’s Facebook page) under the self-proclaimed, though well-deserved moniker of ChipotleSam. (Seriously…just ask him about his Chipotle burrito tattoo). You can find Sam on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as @RealChipotleSam.

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