I often wonder what it would be like to live my life in a bell tower, surrounded by sparkling jewels and glowing gold coins, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem quite feasible in today’s standards. Thief is not the first, but the fourth of a series; the first hit the shelves back in 1998, called Thief: The Dark Project. This was one of the first games to introduce the choice of how the player proceeded morally, less of a set path of good and evil acts, in The Dark Project the choice of either killing a guard or taking the longer shadowy route became a player dependant route and not a set path to take. This revolutionary game was no longer cast in black and white morality, and set the bar for titles to follow.
In the latest in the series aptly named Thief, you play as Garrett, a master thief taking any job with a high outcome. You continue his story, as you start in a room Garrett has presumably just climbed into, with a drunkard collapsed on the bed in front of you. The drunkard’s riches are all around you just waiting to be pilfered. Many of the items have a shine and sparkle to them which is used to indicate it has value and can be taken. Unfortunately the more you move and make noise the drunkard strewn over the bed begins to stir making it clear you need to steady your movements and act more as a master thief would. This first introduces the detection system as an empty white eye which appears above the head of the suspicious individual; the eye fills up the more you are heard or seen until it is completely filled completely white then red. If you are detected the music will change to a tense rhythm and all nearby guards will start to attack you and civilians will call out a thief is in the area alerting everyone to your presence. So to reduce your impact you can diminish light sources such as putting out the nearby candles or turn off lights via switches because Garrett works in a time where something as innocent as allowing your shadow cast upon a wall can be your worst mistake.
Continuing on you hear someone running upon the roof of the building you have climbed into, just after you have cracked a small wall safe hidden behind a picture. You meet a fellow thief, apparently from Garretts’ past, a young lady named Erin who only appears to be in her late teens or early twenties. After a short and slightly disappointing, un-thrilling chase after her you get the feeling of a mentor talking to a failed student. Garrett talks down to Erin, calling her loud and clumsy thief. Following the job you have currently undertaken for Basso, a long-time character in the Thief series who provides you with quests to line your pockets with gold, you witness Erin kill a young guard where it seems Garrett has chosen a higher moral choice of only knocking out his targets.
When climbing through a tight space you steal her “Claw” weapon she used to kill the guard and when Garrett confronts Erin in a cutscene a struggle for the claw starts upon a roof with robed religious fanatics below summoning what they say is the future for the city. The frame rate in this cutscene is just too low causing the lipsync to be out of time and the whole cutscene to appear less than finished. After the cut scene you are knocked out by debris and wake a year later with no knowledge of what has happened from that fight. You slip into the night to return to your hideout.
So far I love the feel and gameplay as I am a fan of the stealth genre, but when playing Thief we thought back to Dishonored and the similarities but both being a stealth based game it is to be expected. Don’t get me wrong it has its differences, Garrett narrates his own actions and gives helpful tips. There are also no magic assets other than your focus mode which allows you to slightly slow down time to make stealing less risky, enables you to see items you can steal/interact with and look out for enemies in the vicinity. You have access to less gadgets but more arrow types, in long lasting Thief style you have the water arrow, you can use it to extinguish torches and lights to cover areas in darkness for a more stealthy approach. You have rope arrows, to fire at high points to climb up and get to otherwise unreachable areas and many more different accessories to help with your illegal craft that will surely pocket you many gold coins.
You have your own hideout in a place that appears to be an almost constructed Big Ben. Trophy cases showing the collectible unique items you’ve managed to find line the dressers and for the trophy hunters out there this makes finding every piece of loot a shout in the face each time you walk through your hideout. I know this is going to be the reason I play Thief non-stop, until I find each collectible. Later in the game, as you complete jobs around the city you can start on exploring its different areas such as residential zones and markets, each with their own treasures to be found. The most interesting discovery I am hoping to make is the story behind the Gloom, a disease sweeping over the city killing people with great similarity to the great plague of London. I think I may already know what is causing it but I am interested to see if I will ever find out. But one of the most annoying things about this game is the constant repetition of the guard’s phrases, it would seem that every one of them has slept with a certain flower stall owner.
*Note that this review was conducted via an Xbox One download code given to us by Microsoft
- + Great mysterious atmosphere, much needed in a stealth game
- + A twisting story that will keep you wanting to play on
- + A readout of how you played after each chapter
- - Voice actors do little to make you feel engaged
- - Limited exploration of the city
- - Cutscenes very buggy and have a low frame rate