Do you remember how the awkward controls enhanced the atmosphere of ZX81 classic 3D Monster Maze? Well, probably not, but you can happily find out just how effectively tense controlling Teddy Tea Leaf via your keyboard’s Q,A,O and P keys can be by, shockingly, actually playing the thing.
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It is an ingenious little stealth game that wisely eschews the genre’s traditional dark and gloomy environments and chooses to be all jolly and colorful, in which you go on and break into places like old ladies’ homes and suburban supermarkets. And by “you” I mean teddy-bear-you, who, being a teddy and all, just doesn’t have to care about the morality of everything. You, the kleptomaniac stuffed toy, have to grab the loot and escape with everything from diamonds to soda.
To do so, you’ll have to navigate all sorts of environments seen from a top down perspective – which works brilliantly with stealth games as lines of sight are always obvious – and avoid being seen by NPCs. As everything is turn based, the game does feel puzzlier than the usual genre offering, which also works beautifully.
Despite giving you all the time in the world to think though, Teddy Tea Leaf is not an easy game. Far from it. Especially in its later levels that get increasingly more populated and thus more difficult to burgle.
If you want to avoid getting caught, you’ll have to wait for Billy to take a stroll, Suzie to fall asleep and then rush to the loot before Emily decides to grab a bite, but also while making sure not to run into Willy as he’s leaving the bathroom. With the game constantly describing what the NPCs are up to, it is not merely being helpful in an interesting way, it is also providing you with micro stories.
And then, you go and steal their engagement rings. For shame.