Sly, Bentley, and Murray present three parts to a whole -- the ego, the superego, and the id; but more emotionally speaking, they forge a brotherhood based in honor and commitment. Sly's pursuit of the riches of his past, his legacy wrought in gold, pertains to his personal quest for identity.
The three are a close-knit family, which has been established ever since the first game introduced them as orphanage pals-- abandoned children from far different backgrounds who find stability in each other's company and their shared exploits. Thievery compels their wits and passion for action (and our own), and offers the protagonist an ethnic identification for him to latch onto. Sly 3 rises above typical sequel obligation by offering solace and development through redemptive episodes.
Familiar series baddies like Dimitri and Panda King are recruited to the Cooper Gang, and even the exhibitionist Baron turns out to be brainy Penelope hiding behind a dastardly facade. Panda King's episode especially considers the very significant act of self-actuated renewal, particularly during one scene where he has an internal monologue with his reflection, in a rousing display of autonomous emotional consolidation. It is wildly ambitious writing for a game aimed for younger audiences, with a wonderful lesson on the importance of enacting personal growth. Growth is a choice governed by one's emotive maturation.
Carmelita as well eventually comes around to acknowledging Sly's inherent goodness, despite his criminal activities, because ultimately his team's ventures prove a morally sound expedition into ancestral discovery. Love lights the way forward towards cooperation and unity-- Sly 3 presents a refutation of division in a world full of strife.
These thieves take down the egotists who give thieving and sleuthing a bad name. They are ethically-disinclined protectors of the world they inhabit, whether relieving the poisoned waters of Venice, clearing out a company of miners from the Australian outback, or thwarting a malicious Chinese emperor's forced marriage plot. Don Octavio, General Tsao, Dr. M, these nefarious villains each represent a cruel, imperious narcissism, which Sly and the gang offer a karmic retort to; and the gameplay (which revolves around carrying out cunning schemes with grand, fulfilling realisation) fittingly corresponds.
Dr. M deems himself the mirror image to Sly's selfless crusade, going so far as to implicate Bentley by comparing them to each other. But Bentley perceives his friend's loving companionship and exposes the antagonist's insecurity. There is a real beauty to the game's progression as new playable characters are introduced, meaning new abilities are unlocked for new interactive playstyles, conditioning this developing team as a singular unit, glued together by the player's input.
One could talk for hours about the game's endless variety of settings and playstyles. The fifth chapter, Dead Men Tell No Tales certainly comes across as ahead-of-its-time (would Assassin's Creed: Black Flag exist without this game??). Though, for as -- surprisingly -- intelligently the script considers its characters, it's a shame Penelope only ever serves as a token female character in a plot dominated by male-centric invention. She's either a brainless love interest or a damsel in distress for most of the cutscenes, unfortunately.
Regardless, Sucker Punch have once again succeeded in melding the weighty action adventure of Saturday morning cartoons with a visual style that suggests a vibrant comic book in motion. For as playful the design is, the writing beautifully grounds this story of anthropomorphic animals seeking out their most ideal selves. Sly 3 commends honor in the face of authoritative greed, making it one of the most sophisticated and inspiring children's games ever conceived.