Are you a fan of stealing things? Do you like being one with the shadows, robbing people blind and then disappearing never to be seen again? Well my little law-breaking friend, look no further than the Thief series. Originally developed by Looking Glass Studios, Thief: The Dark Project (1998) followed by its sequel, The Metal Age (2000) are often praised by stealth fans as 2 of the best stealth games ever made. But sadly, The Metal age was the last game made before Looking Glass Studios closed their doors that same year. They may be out of business, but their legacy will never be forgotten. The Thief series has been a major influence for the stealth genre as a whole: Big open ended levels with tons of detail and untold amounts of secrets, a robust sound engine, a unique setting, and a gripping narrative. With the closing of Looking Glass, the torch was then passed on to Ion Storm, whose previous titles include the original Deus Ex, often praised as being “The best PC game ever made.” It was also a stealth game, go figure right? So they seem like the perfect guys for the job right? In 2004, Ion Storm released the 3rd game in the series, Thief: Deadly Shadows. While it was still received positively, it left the series’s die hard fans a little… disappointed. The most common criticism being that the levels were much smaller and more linear. It was still a worthy sequel as a whole, and still remained true to it’s roots. Now, the torch has been passed to Eidos Montreal, known for the critically acclaimed Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the third in the Deus Ex franchise. What a coincidence huh? They seem like they know just what to do right?.. Well let’s find out shall we?
[My personal experience]
I have not played any of the previous Thief titles other than this one, so I can’t tell you exactly how well it stacks up to the other titles. So I will be judging this game solely on its own 2 feet. Thief (2014) was meet with mixed reviews across the board with reviewers. But the series’s die hard fans were furious with it! Yathzee from the Escapist magazine, who is a die hard fan of the series, refereed to it as “just another sole-less triple A game to add to the pile.” And that was the kindest thing he said about it… Yeah, oh dear. Do I feel the same. No, I honestly don’t. I’ve played many stealth games before such as Splinter Cell and Human Revolution. So I know how they work, but I’m not an expert in the genre by any means. I have beaten the game on Master difficulty, the highest preset difficulty, and I will say it wasn’t exactly what I’d call difficult. Like I do with all my reviews, I will talk about the narrative first, game-play second, and my general thoughts last. If you would like to avoid spoilers, just skip part one.
#1 The story and characters.
In all of the Thief titles, you play as Garrett. Garrett grew up as an orphan, poor and unloved, stealing from others just to stay alive. One day, he tried to steal a pocket-watch off a very strange man who was seemingly supernatural as no one acknowledged he even existed as he walked by. Garrett was then caught by this man who instead of reporting him to the authorities, encouraged him to join his cult. Garrett refused at first, but soon he gave in. The strange man was a member of the Keeper cult, who were master thieves. Garrett was trained by them to become the master thief he is today. This was the old Garrett, because the backstory was not addressed in the newest Thief. In fact, it’s not explained at any point or even hinted at. Apparently, from what I understood, this Garrett was trained and eventually “became the master thief.” He just got good basically. Wow, what an engaging and complex character right? The old Garrett was witty and sarcastic, his sense of humor was rather dry and dark, which made him a joy to listen to. As for New Garrett? I swear that 95% of his dialogue is just pointing out the blindingly obvious. “A secret switch? I wonder where this leads.” “The door is open, time to see what’s inside.” “I’ll have to find another way in, the front door doesn’t seem like the best way.” You get the idea. It’s literately that level of bad. The other 5% of his dialogue is with his female partner in crime I guess, Erin. Supposedly she was trained by Garrett to be a “Master Thief” as well. 95% of her dialogue is whining at Garrett that he’s “holding her back” and that she’s “not a kid anymore.” You know how bratty teenagers typically act when they rebel against their parents? She’s pretty much that, only far dumber. This ground-breaking tag team duo are tasked to steal some really ancient magic artifact from some cult guys in white coats. I couldn’t tell you who they are. The duo come across the cult guys doing some kind of magical ritual thingy, don’t ask, they really don’t explain it that well. Erin is busy being a whiny teenager and stupidly ends up falling right in the middle of the ritual thingy and I guess dies? Sort of? She shows up at the end of the game later on, yes I’m serious, at the end of the game and is evil now. Again, don’t ask, I have no clue. It sucks cause she was sooo likable. Speaking of which, how much do we get to know about her? Well, she was a prostitute. No, seriously. It was explained in Garrett having a random flashback about it in the “House of Blossoms” level. Wait, Garrett wasn’t a part of that memory, so why did he have a flashback about it? Unless… Ewww, never mind. Forget I asked. That’s about it, I know nothing beyond that. I may have gotten a few things wrong but this was what I understood from my play-through.
#2 Game-play feel and mechanics.
Thief is a first-person stealth game centered around stealing all of the sparkling shining things in the whole world. Stealth is heavily encouraged, but not always required. You can technically bum-rush guards head on and beat them out. This tactic is only possible on the lower difficulties however, because on Master difficulty you die in 2 hits and enemies take many hits to go down. So getting caught is a death sentence… most of the time. I’ve been able to just slip away after getting caught. Your results will very depending on the light levels in the area. If it’s mostly dark, it’s not too hard to run away after an unfortunate encounter. Some general mechanics include the swoop, which is basically a short little silent dash forward while crouching. You can swoop in any direction, including backwards, so if you have to back up really fast without making noise, you can. The swoop also has only a very brief cool-down and requires no stamina, so you can spam it quite a bit to move really quickly. I will admit that swooping is quite fun, if a bit broken. You almost feel like a ghost swooping from shadow to shadow. Speaking of ghosting, you also have what’s called a “Blackjack” which could knock out guards from behind. While it is an alternate method, I feel it makes the game a bit too easy. So what I like to do is try to ghost my way through the whole level without so much as alerting a dust mite to my presence. Not even the air its self could detect me. This is without a doubt the most fun way to play. It’s about time I talk about the A.I. they’ve been a mixed bag with me. There have been some times where I was directly face to face with a guard and he didn’t spot me and other times, a guard would spot me from all the way across the room, from behind cover, between 3 walls, and in complete darkness. Some people have reported the A.I.’s path-finding screwing up to the point where they get stuck and spin in place. This has never happened to me, but I kinda wish it did. I would have pissed myself laughing. There’s also side quests to go along side the main “story.” Most, if not all are pretty much: Go to this certain area and steal this certain item that’s locked away in a safe. Every side quest is different enough for it to not be mundane. They’re alright. Garrett also has a bow that can fire many varieties of arrows such as water, moss, broad-head, blunt, and gas arrows. I found the bow pretty useless overall in the sense that I didn’t really feel the need to use it in very many situations.
#3 In conclusion
Now I know what you’re probably thinking: “OMG Praxi, stop beating around the bush! Do you like this game or not?” Honestly, I generally enjoyed this game more than I hated it. It’s fairly basic as far as stealth games go, but it was still fun none the less. I would say if you’re a causal fan of stealth games, Thief is a fairly well done game overall. But if you’re a huge fan overall, I don’t feel this game will appeal very well to you. The story is confusing and the new Garrett sucks, but I could look past that. If there are things I missed or you disagree with me, let me know. I’d love to hear your feedback. This is my first post ever so tell me how it is. Do you like my format? If not, tell me why and I’ll fix it. You can comment here or on my Facebook page. If you enjoyed, please remember to like. 🙂