This was everything it was sold to be. Loved it. Especially the silly bloops during "hacking" sequences.
Found that with enough Monitors and patience, I could reliably stick with only a handful of the mechanics to easily sweep each heist (with the odd surprise camera). Not that I'd like to see this fully prevented, but maybe adding optional difficulties where guards become suspicious if they get trapped too long (distract could interrupt this), or a countdown that triggers after hacking a camera or alarm system (maybe until you manage to hack the security hub) to create some kind of time constraint would encourage some on-the-fly changes of approach.
Guards were also a pretty reliable way of scouting each map. More limited patrol routes, or guards that didn't carry phones (again, maybe limited to higher difficulties) would create a need to use a few more tricks or put yourself in a little more danger. Would maybe like to see a few more objects that needed to be interacted with directly. Weaponizing the guards to steadily expand control did feel great though, and played perfectly into the "case-the-joint" theme, so wouldn't want to see it diminished too much.
Noted there didn't seem to be much purpose to monitoring alarms or computers; would like to see some functionality added (or better telegraphed) there.
The dark web info dealer felt a little under-utilized; once I was comfortable with my approach, the only thing I was ever really tempted to get a heads-up on were the cameras. If different heists had emphasis on different security systems (cameras vs alarms vs guards), it might become valuable to buy forewarning as to which you were most likely up against, and then buy further details about locations. If keys were a little harder to come by - like needing to break into specific objects to get them vs just anytime via hacking minigame - that might also make the dealer info more valuable. Maybe "basic" keys are infinitely re-obtainable, but keys for the "higher end" security systems are limited, and the vendor could be willing to sell you a few extra to start with, as well as info as to which ones you'd need.
Did like the introduction part way through of the second key set. Having to manage both added to the fun without adding too much complexity. Adding a "basic/simple" key alongside the two specialized ones might work mechanically without being too much to juggle.
Also: never tried, but did seem like it might be possible to soft-lock by filling up the inventory with the wrong type of key and having no way to spend them - might test that out at some point.
Navigating targets definitely feels a little jumbled and clumsy as-is, which was part of the motivation to play defensively. If this was streamlined a bit so that it was faster to select the target you needed [while panicking], I might've been more tempted to make some more aggressive moves. Maybe left/right to switch between "Nearby" and categories like doors, alarms, cameras, etc.
The defensive play was pretty satisfying though. Steadily exploring and taking over the map from safety, then waltzing around disabling locks, stealing data, and looting safes once you had complete control felt awesome. You raised concern as to whether the pseudo-hacking alone was enough to carry the game, but combined with the problem solving of casing and gaining control of the heist location it was thoroughly engaging.
Really enjoyed this it. Would love to see it expanded further. Could definitely see this getting developed into something a lot bigger.