As the title of the game conveys, Thief is all about feeding your inner klepto, while providing you with a story that works hard trying to immerse players into its industrialized universe and dark history. Championing this world of sinister dark alleyways and concrete surfaces promoting despair and hopelessness, we are introduced to Garrett, the master thief.
Players initially find Garrett doing what he does best while an unconscious fellow is lying in bed. Only a few feet away Garrett quickly relieves the man of his most valuable possessions just before fleeing the scene, giving you but a taste of what is in store the further you spend time with the master thief.
Thief present players with a hostile environment, whether walking the streets or finding yourself in an uninvited manor of sorts, players must always be on their toes. With the fluent ability to peak around corners, quickly change your peek position and move swiftly out of the sight of guards, surveillance camers, caged dogs and parrots, (yes those pesky birds will get you every time) the experience leaves little down time for an evening stroll, unless you keep to the rooftops. Thief shines in many areas, offering a seasoned gamers approach to the experience. Players are forced to figure out level designs and how they are expected to reach objective locations, some more challenging than others. In addition, manipulating the environments while steering clear of enemies, also proves most entertaining especially for player who desire more challenge instead of the brainless guns blazing or should I say arrow to the head approach.
For the entire ride Garrett never lets his guard down or fully reveals himself, opting to remain anonymous even when we find him regrouping at headquarters of the massive clock tower. Even Bruce Wayne would occasionally take off the costume at the batcave…not Garrtett! Possessing a sort of old-school dark knight appeal in a dark and gloomy world, unfriendly to its occupants, this Gotham is a greater expression of Garrets anonymity. Despite his main occupation which leaves both bad and good people without and destitute, you find yourself liking Garrett. Maybe it’s the coolness factor or his refusal the let his guard down or the idea of a code which empowers the player to create their own philosophy for Garrett defining their approach to the experience. Whatever it is, it is organic and can connect well with players looking for a different approach to traversal manipulation, avoiding and engaging danger.
At first glance Thief possesses striking similarities to Bethsda’s Dishonored, but upon discovering hidden switches and combinations hiding in closets and so on, you begin to understand that this is also a game of patience and cunning stealth gameplay. Unlike Dishonored, Thief presents Garrett as a normal yet skillful artist of his craft. Other than the ability to use what can be described as Garrett’s inner sight or focus ability allowing him to highlight important objects in a given area or his ninja like ability to move swiftly for short distance, Garrett is never infused with super natural strength or abilities that enable him to overpower enemies or scale walls unrealistically.
Complimenting Garrett’s agile dexterity, engaging enemies allows for a simple evasive or dodging maneuver which leaves your enemies slightly off balance giving you an open invitation to strike. Spicing up the combat, once an enemy is stunned trying catch their breath, Garrett can then perform a cinematic take down which can seem repetitive due to a lack varied punishing takedowns. Yet it always satisfies. However, players looking to exercise their inner Assassin’s Creed against multiple enemies can expect a rude awakening as developer Eidos Montreal aims to keep players honest every step of the way.
Hiding in the shadows is the name of the game. Moving within the darkness while pick pocketing guards is empowering and impressive. Sometimes players may feel forced to take matter into their own hands and create their own dark paths by equipping the water arrow to extinguish well lit areas from torch light. While the AI isn’t the best, players should assume a well placed water arrow will always alarm a nearby guard if they are standing too close to the light source. So, be patient and let the guard create some distance between he and the light source. Guards have been known to relight light sources while other guards are diligently looking for the unknown disturbance.
Speaking of arrows, you’re going to want and need to stock up bigtime. Arrows are specific in their use and just because you have a ton of fire arrows doesn’t mean you should leave home without the useful broadhead arrows or the deadly sawtooth arrows (my personal favorites). I would also throw in the choke arrows and the always useful rope arrows which you should always have a steady supply of on hand. The better equipped Garrett is for each mission the better the experience, it’s that simple. The more you steal the more you can stock up on valuable tools making you a better thief. Quick tip: Acquire pliers and wire cutters as soon as you can, you’ll be glad you did.
The campaign is pretty straight forward with the useful addition of over 20 side missions to add to the gameplay. Theif is a great time especially for older player who are used to this style of play with patience approach however, the biggest downside to Thief is in how players are forced to endure those brutal load screens when traveling from one sub-division of the city to the next. With so much gameplay goodness founded on stealth and discovery, the experience takes bit of a dip due to this archaic and freedom-less accession.
While the main story centers around Garrett and his journey to discover the truth behind a discovered ritual with world changing side effects at the hands of some of the cities most prominent figures as well as the mystery of his friend’s death, the balancing act of unfolding more truth with along the way mixed with stealing small to big ticket items such as a silver or gold fork to priceless portraits and jewels, the game always and nicely supports your main trade.
Visually Thief is great looking game. Supported across most platforms PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360, the game possesses impressive lighting, skylines and level designs. Having had the privilege of taking the game for a spin on all the platforms while completing the lengthy campaign and all the side quests on the PS4, I can honestly say it really doesn’t matter which platform you play this one on. They are all nice on the eyes. While the PC, PS4 and Xbox One offered shorter load times and a noticeably crisper image at higher resolutions with the addition of thicker fog and more atmospheric elements, the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions looked great as the gameplay felt identical across the board.
Side quests not only added more gameplay for the sake of gameplay, most of these missions added a great level of substance to the ride revealing more insight into the lives of the people within the city. I would have liked for the City as it is called to have been more occupied by the people living in it breathing more life into the City. Most of the ride is played at night and the excuse for not adding more people can be found in the games mandatory curfew forced on the games NPC. A nice touch but I still would have also liked to see the daybreak more than once at the games conclusion.
Difficulty settings for Thief can’t be ignored as the higher settings can be more than a challenge testing your skills giving players more of a deeper appreciation for the gameplay. Upon completing what is known as a chapter players are given the option to continue or replay. My first playthrough took more than 14 hours to complete everything and while the length felt perfect, I find myself diving back in attempting to acquire as much loot and valuable finds to fill my headquarter trophy cases.
Make no mistake, despite the load screens slowing down the action at times, Thief is a very good game giving players a more realistic approach to traversing abstract levels. While the combat is bare bones, Thief is not about taking on enemies head-on, if you decide to make sure you have an escape route. At its best Thief allows you to steal to your hearts content while roaming the roof tops acting as an invisible death angel or an unseen passer by like the blowing of the wind.
Taking in the complete experience is certainly a rewarding affair with much in the replay department.