By: Ted Chow
The plan was simple. Get in and get out without much of a scuffle with the cops. We studied the blueprints and our intel indicated a safe stashed in the backroom with a load of cash to make us rich. But things started to get dicey when the trip wires set off the alarm and a shoot out with the cops got our hands dirty. The plan was perfect, so what went wrong?
If you enjoy a top-down scroller with some old-school SNES vibes that lets you plan out the perfect heist or a glorious end for you and your goons, The Masterplan will give you the chance to flex your street cred.
The Masterplan has an eloquently simple control scheme that utilizes the keyboard and mouse effectively. While there aren’t any key bindings allowed, the game is minimalistic to what you need in order to accomplish its goals. All your actions can be established with the click of your mouse and the top-down camera panning is effortlessly handled with the WASD keys.
Overall, everything felt smooth and natural without having to be bogged down with complexities in order to make the game shine.
Graphically and artistically speaking, The Masterplan is simple in its construct, but it can be visually obstructive when objects and loot start to clutter the screen. The cartoony look feels at home for the lighthearted nature of the game, though that could take away from the immersion as the subject matter is more or less gritty.
If anyone has ever played The Untouchables for the SNES, The Masterplan pays some homage to the tale of gangsters and mobsters and is, in essence, a modern reincarnation of the series. Even the soundtrack has that jazz-infused beat that really sells the mood of being a smooth criminal. Overall, the sound and visuals felt appropriate and offer a sense of witty charm to the overall presentation.
The main draw of The Masterplan is in its strategic value of performing the perfect heist. With a top-down approach, you control your gangsters as if they were performing on a blueprint in a marked area of interest. Combine that with some interesting A.I functionality from the NPCs, and you can nerd out on essentially everything from studying security paths to mapping out cameras and alarms.
Do you want to stealth your way for a clean getaway or do you want to go in guns blazing and shoot it out with the cops? There is no wrong way to approach the heist, and with the ability to replay heists over again for cash and other hidden goodies, The Masterplan encourages some innovative, reckless ideas.
Another interesting feature is the threaten mechanic, where your gangsters hold up hostages. Civilians within a certain cone range from the gun will become available to do your bidding. You can force civilians to beat up other civilians, bring you the loot and cash or just act as meat shields when the cops come.
Civilians will display a radial dial that will deplete if too far from the gun’s radius and will free up the hostage to escape and call the cops. However, with some foresight, you can plan it so that the cops don’t even show for a clean heist.
Your hideout in The Masterplan will act as your central hub after every mission. Cash can be used to buy new weapons as well as recruit members to your crime syndicate. Aside from the small interactable stuff and shooting galleries, the hideout is rather static and serves no other function than a place to call home. A car is also available to take you to the mission selection screen where you can unlock new heists or replay old ones to farm for some easy cash.
Story wise, there isn’t much beyond the basic necessities in order for you to get a general gist of the reasons you do what you do. Death is a permanent thing in The Masterplan so it is wise to keep your gangsters in check, though unlike other games, there may not be much of an attachment to your characters. While the game will loosely string missions together into some coherent path, it’s best to take each heist as its own individual adventure.
The Masterplan is a game that provides some interesting moments and mechanics in its brevity of gameplay. While the game may feel minimalistic at times, there is a lot of depth to what is available — though procedurally generated would definitely create more replayability. As it stands, The Masterplan is a nice title that any player can put some time into and log off satisfied.