Exclusive! Size Five’s New Game: The Swindle

This is a game's name in a picture on a website.

RPS is very pleased to be the first place to announce the name and details of Size Five‘s (formerly Zombie Cow) new game. It is called The Swindle, and creator Dan Marshall describes it as a steampunk cybercrime caper.

Following on from RPS favourites Ben There, Dan That! and Time Gentlemen, Please!, as well as Channel 4’s willy-based Privates, The Swindle is the first game to be announced since the studio changed its name. And what exactly is a steampunk cybercrime caper. Size Five explain that to us, below, along with the first ever screenshots.

“It means hacking into someone’s bank account using a steam-driven typewriter, that’s what that means. I was really keen to do something that no-one’s ever done before, and I’m pretty sure that kind of fits the bill.”

It’s a platform game, of sorts. Physics-based, and instead of being about going from left to right, it’s about infiltrating facilities and nicking all their money. Which, pretty impressively, Dan Marshall describes as “Deus Ex meets Sonic the Hedgehog”. Well, there you go.

“You’re charged with infiltrating various facilities, stealing all their money and making your escape. So it’s kind of open how you go about that – whether you want to do it stealthily by bounding around rooftops, or simply walk in through the front door shooting everything that gets in your way, that’s all up to you.”

Clearly steampunk theft requires steampunk gloves, which are your main piece of equipment. With the money you steal you can upgrade the gloves, gathering new abilities. Perhaps you’ll pick faster typing skills, maybe improved weapons, or the most important thing in gaming: double-jump boosters. And naturally there’s an option for telekinesis.

“And yes,” adds Marshall, “you shoot by putting your fingers together in a gun shape, playground style.”

Inspired by Assassin’s Creed II, Marshall was driven by the enjoyment he gains from making money in games. “It’s one of my main hobbies,” he explains. “There’s nothing more satisfying to me than a big fat horde of fake money, and that’s something that I felt ASCII did really well… So that’s the core gameplay I’m working towards: nick stuff, upgrade your kit, go back and nick some more.”

So how does that actually work? What are you doing as you play? Marshall puts it like this:

“At its core, it’s a platform game. Running, jumping, shooting, whipping up and down ladders, the usual Megadrive-era mechanics. Where it differs is in your approach to getting in-and-out of a building: you might use telekinesis to lift a rock off a manhole so you can break in through an underground tunnel and bypass all the security guards. Maybe you’ll hack a terminal that takes down the security cameras, allowing you to plant explosives by a weak wall, and go in guns blazing. Maybe you’ll hop into a guard tower and use the double jump ability to land on the facility’s roof, where you can smash through a skylight. That sort of thing.”

Things are still very early on. Due to the success of previous games, Size Five are in a position to take their/his time with this, to make sure it’s right. But rather than adopting the usual secretive development practises, this time he’s determined to share the process. To follow that, the best route is via @danthat on Twitter.

Oh, I do hope this works. Crime capering is a weirdly under-explored genre. We will certainly be keeping a close eye on it.


  1. zeroskill says:

    Oh his looks awesome, I love Ben There Dan That.

  2. Jim Rossignol says:

    “Deus Ex meets Sonic the Hedgehog” is something we’ve all been demanding for years now. About time.

  3. jellydonut says:


  4. Harlander says:

    Sounds a little bit akin to that guy’s game of espionage heisting, where your jumps were plotted out by an arc of dots before you made them, except with more stuff.

    • Moni says:

      Do you mean Tom Francis’s Gunpoint?

      Obviously they both see the gap in the market for platformy, heisty games.

    • danthat says:

      Yeah, my heart sank a little bit when Gunpoint was announced. Proper Splosion Man/ Explodemon moment. I think they’ll wind up being quite different, fortunately…

    • Harlander says:

      I’d be very happy if “heist game” became this cycle’s “zombie game”. Very happy indeed.

    • danthat says:

      No no no! No one else make one, we’re covered.

    • CMaster says:

      You have heard of Monaco, Subversion and Payday, right?

      (Although I’m not too hopeful of both Monaco and Subversion actually being out any time soon)

    • danthat says:

      la la la la la they don’t have guns in your fingers so that’s different.

    • CMaster says:


      Excellent point.

    • Tom Francis says:

      Aw, Dan. Usually when I make someone’s heart sink it’s much less flattering than that. Thanks for mistakenly perceiving my game as a threat!

      Swindle looks awesome, can’t wait. Love the look. I also love stealing money. In Gunpoint, the only things you can steal from people are their secrets, freedom, life and dignity. Might add a special kind of door that takes their wallet when you open it in their face.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      I thought we’d concluded one topic below this one that roguelikes were the new zombie games? :s

    • Josh W says:

      Of course, roguelike heist platformers with alchemical inventory combination, stealth and hacking.

  5. skinlo says:

    I agree totally with his thing about AS2. I’m playing Brotherhood atm, I’m actually getting irritated at the game because they have that stupid white wall memory thing which is blocking some of the Borgia towers I want to destroy, so I can buy all the shops.

    The thing missing from the game are upgrade levels like AS2 had which I really enjoy.

    I hope The Swindle has a frankly ridiculous amount of upgrades available!

    • danthat says:

      Somehow Brotherhood’s money system didn’t do it for me, it felt slightly different. Can’t quite remember why. Does it shill go “CHING!” in a really satisfying way every 20 minutes?

      X3 was another game that did money well. GIVE ME ALL THE FAKE MONEY, I can’t get enough.

    • Stromko says:

      Referring to Assassin’s Creed II as ASCII though? Not cool. Though shalt not invoke the holy ASCII in vain!

  6. Bats says:

    Well consider me sold. There needs to be more steampunk games, but this one is quite inventive. I will be keeping an eye out for this game.

  7. westyfield says:

    “Marshall was driven by the enjoyment he gains from making money”

    Secretive motives aside, this sounds really interesting. Steampunk and crime-capering? Sounds too good to be true!

  8. The Sombrero Kid says:


  9. Vexing Vision says:

    Did he really just call it ASCII?

  10. Teddy Leach says:

    He told us it had doors. He was being truthful.

  11. cosmicolor says:

    I hope it has the same sort of sense of humour as Ben There, Dan That and the sequel. Even if I’m horrible at adventure games, I still enjoyed the humour in Ben There.

  12. Skusey says:

    While Fable 3 wasn’t great, being able to walk around on top of a massive pile of money was a brilliant way of showing the player how stupidly rich they were.

  13. Acosta says:

    ““Deus Ex meets Sonic the Hedgehog”

    I didn’t know I needed this until now. Me wants!

  14. Lambchops says:

    Steampunk = good

    Computery stuff = good

    Cybergloves = good

    Crime = . . . good?

    Look forward to seeing how it turns out. My stack of virtual money is on good!

  15. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    Steampunk is overused in games.

    • Maykael says:

      I most respectfully disagree with you, my friend! It’s rather underused tbh.

    • LTK says:

      The only game using steampunk elements I can think of off the top of my head is Bioshock Infinite. What, if any, games make steampunk overused?

    • chabuhi says:

      Aqua (or whatever it’s called now)
      WoW has steampunkery in it, as do other games featuring gnomish types
      Which brings me to … Dungeon Siege
      Stacked is steampunkish, I believe
      Oh, and then there’s my as yet undeveloped platformer that is all steampunk all the time

      While I think I’ve had my fill of Steampunk in general I would not say that it’s overused in games.

    • Eclipse says:

      sadly it’s not. The last true cyberpunk game I remember is Arcanum, and before that The Chaos Engine.
      Bioshock is “steampunk-ish” not steampunk.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      Torchlight has Steampunk, and it looks like Torchlight 2 will have even more.

  16. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    Couldn’t be more excited!

    I just played BTDT and Time, Gentlemen Please pretty much back to back after I bought them for ONE CURRENCY UNIT! this must be awesome!!!

  17. Xocrates says:

    This sounds hugely promising.

    /me wants

  18. ZIGS says:

    You got my attention at “Deus Ex”

  19. JFS says:

    Just yesterday someone demanded steampunk (it was in this voxel Minecraft game’s comment section). Here we go. Love, Love, Love.

  20. TsunamiWombat says:

    Sounds like a well expanded version of Mr. ‘Yahtzee’ Crowshaw’s ‘Trilby’ game.

  21. Eclipse says:

    I was so puzzed reading “There’s nothing more satisfying to me than a big fat horde of fake money, and that’s something that I felt ASCII did really well”, for a moment I was thinking “ASCII? is he talking about a roguelike?”

  22. Walsh says:

    Valve should hire/buy them immediately.

    • zeroskill says:

      it is a thing that might well happen at some point, if the guys agree. Anyway their point and click adventures already are on Steam.

  23. Danorz says:

    “physics-based platformer” is to indie studios as “FPS” is to AAA studios but i’m not writing this off immediately, probably because he said deus ex.

  24. Post-Internet Syndrome says:

    Officially interested.

  25. shoptroll says:

    I’m down with this.

    Also, what happened to the Privates update that was slated for Easter?

  26. Squeeby says:

    This sounds amazing. Can’t wait for more details.

  27. nyck says:

    Are these developers the same from World of Goo? At least the guy that draws the background images? because they are pretty similar

  28. Hybrid says:

    Very cool!