Tiny Heist is a strategy computer game. The goal is to move your character, the yellow snail, through each of fifteen rooms in the castle, collecting as many gems as possible. The game is pixel based, meaning each move is either one square forward, backward, left, or right.
The game can be played with the arrow keys or the ASDW keys. To keep the character in place while allowing the moving characters to continue their paths, press the Z or space key. To use an item, press the number corresponding with the item slot the item resides in. A maximum of three items can be held at one time, so only the 1, 2, and 3 keys are required to use them. The enter key is needed when talking to the shopkeeper to confirm one of two options. Either the Z, space, or enter key can be used to exit the item information screen. To restart the game at level one, press the R key, but keep in mind the level layouts will be different than the ones played before.
On your quest, there is a range of obstacles to prevent you from escaping each room.
Crossing a guard's field of vision causes them to become aware of your presence in the castle. The field of vision is indicated by discolored spaces on the floor. The color and behavior of a field of vision depends on the type of guard and the shape of the level. The alert of a guard does not carry over between levels, so by reaching the level end, the threat of an alerted guard is removed. Upon contact with a guard (one space of the player, up, down, left, right), the player loses a life.
There are only a few types of guards. Patrol Bots, Laser Patrol bots, and Elite Bots are moving obstructions. Patrol Bots and Laser Patrol Bots have a sight range rectangle of three by six directly in front of them, which switches positions depending on what they are facing and shape of the course. For example, around one block corners, their vision extends downwards by a few blocks. If against a wall in a smaller room, their vision rectangle changes from a three by six rectangle positioned symmetrically in front of the guard to a three by six rectangle shifted away from the nearest wall, omitting the block furthest from the wall level with the guard. This allows the player to hide in the blind spot and wait for attack. Patrol Bots have a normal field of vision, while Laser Patrol Bots have red vision spaces, which cause the player to lose a life if they are in one of these red spaces.