The Masterplan is a tactical heist game. For the fans of the genre it can be a real treat, as these kind of games are pretty rare to find.
Of course we have things like the Payday games, and Monaco, but it is really hard to find a really good single player heist game, that delivers in the tactical department. Needless to say, that the game still needs a long way to go, as it is just out with the very first version released on early access. Let’s see if you should jump right into it, or should wait a few more patches.
The world from above
The Masterplan has a top-down approach to the genre.The whole visual style, and the way the characters move around, make the game feel like a crossover of Hotline Miami and Frozen Synapse. The aesthetic is closer to Hotline Miami except it is much clearer and feels more realistic. Developer Shark Punch decided to take a more comic book looking style, rather than pixelated graphics, that are so popular lately: the result is a very cool looking game, that feels absolutely fluid in motion.
We are not here to negotiate. We are here for the money.
You control a group of criminals, and the only objective is to grab the money and run. It can be achieved by any means necessary, but you do get penalties for killing people. These penalties will be deducted from the amount of money you can grab before escaping. The whole game can be controlled with the mouse and the space button, which serves as a ‘slow-mo’ mode (basically pause). Some of the mechanics can be familiar from other stealth, and tactical top-down titles, like special doors that can be only opened with the keys guards carry around.
One of the main element, that plays a big part in doing successful robbery, is the hold up mechanic. If you point your gun at someone they will be marked as held up and can be controlled by the player. This status lasts as long as someone points a gun at them, or their hold up meter is depleted. They can be used to open doors that only the hostages have keys for, without actually killing or knocking them down. This however requires some real micromanaging when you are moving hostages, as they will quickly lose fear, when no one is pointing a pistol at their face.
The Early Access experience:
Although everything that is in the game right now looks very promising, and can possibly make for a really good experience, for now this title is more of a showcase, then a full complete game. Most of the things that are in it, are working, but things like putting your own crew together are completely missing. Currently there are only a handful of missions available to showcase the potential. There is no story for now, only heists you can unlock with money from previous ones.
The learning curve is very steep for now, as I feel that the devs wanted to show a little bit of endgame as well. The Masterplan currently provides about 1-2 hours of fun in the current state (can easily be 2+ depending on the playstyle). You can rush trough the heists with guns blazing just for the hell of it in about 20 mins, but if you would really like to keep the body count low, and go for a more stealth approach you can already invest some real time into it. That is the very reason I am so positive about the game. I really enjoyed planning out, even these ‘demo’ heists, and it is really promising for the future.
For now I am not sure if the $15 USD (or your regional equivalent) asking price really justifies the content, but Shark Punch plans to push out updates, bi-weekly with new content and fixes. The full version will even feature a complete story mode, but I really doubt that will be available soon. For now, I would say you can expect more heists, weapons, and characters in the coming months. Although there is a lack of content right now, the replayability is already pretty high.
If you like the genre, I would say you won’t really be disappointed, even with the state of the game now. But if you are not yet convinced, then you can always decide a few patches later, after seeing how the game shapes up. That’s the beauty of Early Access.