- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A pilfering telepath falls for a dame while looking for one more, big score in the noirish mobile puzzler Third Eye Crime (Moonshot Games, rated 9+, reviewed on an iPad 3, $2.99).

A player controls Rathko, a fellow with the facial profile of Inspector Gadget and dressed in a white trench coat and fedora that stealthily steals, avoids pursuers and escapes a variety of maze-like locations.

Ratho surveys a maze of possibilities for each of the initial 40 levels before he looks to lift a Renaissance masterpiece, steal keys or clear jewels placed in corridors or in the center of heavily guarded rooms.

The action is simple. Just drag a finger around possible paths on the iPad’s touch screen in the over-the-top presentation while watching Rathko follow like he’s tethered to a rubber band.

Our burglar’s power allows a player to see a foe’s field of vision (highlighted in a swatch of blue on the mazes) and also when enemies are in pursuit of Rathko (intercepting paths in glowing red). That works great early on for the dimwitted bums in pinstripe suits lumbering about.

However, eventually guards packing Tommy guns show up to permanently end Rathko’s mission. A fleet of foot goons can catch the criminal if he gets too sloppy in his planned escape route.

To help combat that, a player has limited access to special powers such as temporarily freezing an enemy, deflecting bullets or setting off a timed alarm to distract the bums in pursuit.

The powers are available in limited supply, occasionally scattered in a room or available for the dreaded, in-app purchase. Those powers become a necessity to complete the mush more difficult levels.

If Rathko gets caught or shot to death, the screen goes blood red, but he can try again and again to succeed in each level.

Additionally, a player can earn a trio of achievements for getting through a level including not being seen or completing an escape in under a set amount of time. Unfortunately, the achievements offer no payoff in extra powers.

What’s simply a clever maze puzzler comes to life through its stunning, yet sparse, illustrations that look plucked from a Frank Miller Sin City graphic novel, if it was G-rated, of course.

The hand-drawn art revealed by swiping between the chapters of the game tell the tale of a redheaded dame with pouty lips looking to manipulate Rathko into deeper criminal activity.

Add to the beautiful art, a sultry musical score plucked from a jazz orchestra that could have been conducted by Nelson Riddle, and the design package is vintage, 1940s noir at its finest.

For $3, a player gets Act 1 and its 40 levels. Finish and get sucker punched into partaking in the tempting in-app purchases for Act 2 and Act 3 (80 levels more) for 99 cents each.

Despite feeling a bit ripped off with all the extra purchasing required to complete the entire story, a player will find helping the hardboiled hero of Third Eye Crime an addictive experience worth stealing his time.

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