Fat City is a clever puzzle game with slim depth. The Hitman Go-esque pegged maps make for some interesting solving at first, and a variation of characters add some diversity – but power-ups and stale layouts make the difficulty and frankly, the fun, virtually nonexistent.
You'll play as a Chris Knox, a man who has a particular set of skills, which he has developed over a very long career. A group of kidnappers aware of these talents kidnap Knox's sister, and force him to come to New York City to rob banks in order to get her back. Unfortunately, that's about the entire plot, and you learn it within 15 seconds after pushing X to start. Of course, not having a story isn't always an issue, but why set one up and do basically nothing with it afterward?
Thankfully, gameplay isn't quite as uninspired as the story. From the get-go you'll see the layout of the level, police patrol patterns, as well as where the bank and safe house are. In turn-based style you get to pick the best route to avoid the cops, take out the bank, and get home free without getting caught, before pushing a button and watching your master plan in action. The unfortunate part is that some abilities make all of this brainwork meaningless.
If you're using Knox for instance, you can buy a facial scanner ability that lets you slip past cops unnoticed. After playing for a bit you could easily have over $150,000 just sitting in your bank account and thanks to the fact that abilities are pretty cheap, you could stock up on Knox's facial scanner ability and breeze through levels without a hitch. They work as win buttons more than anything else.
Throughout Fat City, you'll travel the five different boroughs of NYC, anywhere from Queens to Staten Island, to rob banks and rival gangs. But the biggest issue is that these maps all start to feel the same. None stick out, and once you start to cruise through a few in under 20 seconds, you won't be able to distinguish one from another.
Helping to switch things up are a few characters that you can add to your crew who have their own particular set of skills. Ace is a hacker who can stop police from responding after you take down a bank. Fish is a demolitions expert who can blow up barricades for you or crush sewer grates to stop police in their tracks.
Once you get the whole gang together for a job is when Fat City is at its best. For one mission, this writer had Ace take out a police response station while Fish blew up police barricades and Knox tackled the bank. If you pull it all off in a swift cadence of switching and using each character ability at different times, you'll start to feel what Fat City has to offer, regardless of if the power-ups feel cheap.
Fat City would be pretty competent if the gameplay wasn't so vapid. The puzzles would be clever if abilities didn't serve as win buttons. And the story would be interesting if it didn't cease to exist after the first 15 seconds. Sadly, despite some fleeting positives, all of these issues combine to make a puzzler that's far from meaty.