This cool safecracking sim teaches you how locks really work

Sophie's Safecracking Simulator
(Image credit: Sophie Houlden)

There's no counting how many locks I've picked and safes I've cracked in games. Thousands, probably. But picking a lock or opening a safe is usually accomplished by a simplistic little minigame that doesn't have much to do with how locks really work.

Sophie's Safecracking Simulator, on the other hand, not only lets you break into safes but teaches you how combination locks actually function. Even if you have some idea about what goes on inside a lock, this sim will make you an expert on levers, cams, wheel gates, pins, flies, and contact points, and it'll teach you the enjoyable (if painstaking) process of figuring out a lock's combination and getting the goodies inside.

Instead of looking at the lock straight-on with a bobby pin and screwdriver like the Fallout games, here you can swivel the camera around the lock in 3D while you fiddle with it, seeing what actually happens while you turn the dial in real time. You start out on a lock with one wheel, then graduate to three wheels, then practice on locks with differently sized wheels. Eventually you'll get the chance to crack your first safe and play with some fun safecracking tools that you've probably seen in movies.

Sure, you can x-ray the safe for a clear look at the wheels as you're learning, but once you've got a grip on things you can restrict yourself to the spectrogram to give you a visual indication of the sounds the lock is making while you fiddle with it. And once you've practiced enough you may be able to do it with just the sounds alone. A few other gadgets can be snapped onto the safe to ensure precise turns as you slowly get closer to cracking it. 

And once you've got the hang of things you can generate locks with random combinations and a different number of wheels to see how fast you can crack it. I hope some speedrunners pick up on this sim, because I think it'd be great to watch prospective master thieves compete to crack safes as quickly as possible.

This is a really slick and cool sim with a great tutorial that explains how everything works. Best yet, Sophie's Safecracking Simulator is only $2 on (though that's the minimum price, and you consider spending a bit more if you dig it). And it's just one of a number of projects by developer Sophie Houlden on

Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.