GAME NAME: Thief
DEVELOPER(S): Eidos Montreal
PUBLISHER(S): Square Enix
PLATFORM(S): PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC
GENRE(S): Stealth Adventure
RELEASE DATE(S): 28th February
The original Thief was one of the pioneers of stealth games back in the late 90’s, and at the time there was nothing else like it on PC. The series saw its console debut with Thief: Deadly Shadows, and now, once again, players will get to play as Master Thief Garrett on console with this reboot. The series has returned to the first person perspective and a brand new story has been cooked up by developers Eidos- Montreal. They say Thief returns to the original formula, but this time there are a lot of new tricks up Garrett’s sleeves for his next-gen debut.
Thief starts off with Garrett in the middle of an important heist, but it’s not long before his plans quickly get thrown out the window when you bump into your old protégé, a roof-leaping thief named Erin. The two of you witness a very strange ceremony at the Baron’s Manor that ends with Garrett falling off the roof and, as a result, being knocked unconscious. When you wake up, things are very different in the city, a city now plagued by a strange disease called the gloom. After checking in with your old business partner, you discover you have been missing for a year, but gold won’t steal itself so you are quickly sent out onto the streets to fill your pockets with loot. As you progress, you start to regain your memory and discover the truth behind your memory loss and the disease that’s rampant throughout the city.
The city is heavily guarded by the Watch, which makes life for a thief pretty hard. That said, thanks to his special tools, Garrett is more than just a shadow creeping kleptomaniac. Your inventory is made up of your bow with various arrow tips. You can use your claw for climbing and your blackjack with ease. The bow has handy arrow tips such as the water arrows that can be used to extinguish flames to help you stay undetected, while the rope arrows can help you access higher locations. You will use the blackjack for your stealth takedowns and it’s your primary weapon in combat if you get detected, which will happen a lot. All of this is accessed via the PS4’s touch pad, though it feels a bit clunky to use. The good news is that it’s not compulsory. There is an option to use the D-pad and an inventory wheel instead which worked better. Movement is handled in almost the same way as the Assassin Creed series, whereby holding in the left trigger will allow you to free run over obstacles and leap across rooftops. You have the ability to perform a quick dash by pressing X, which lets Garrett move in plain sight for a second in-between shadows. You can also peek around corners and look through key holes while remaining undetected.
All this peeking and sneaking means nothing if you’re not careful where you step, as broken glass and certain surfaces will make a noise if walked over, giving you away in the process. Unfortunately, it’s not always worth being concerned about detection, however, as the enemy AI can sometimes be forgiving or borderline stupid. For example, you can shoot a guard in the back with a blunt arrow only to have him blame it on the wind thirty seconds later and forget anything happened. If you are seen by these idiotic guards, they will hunt you down briefly, but there are plenty of closets to take refuge in and running to the next section is usually an easy way out of danger.
Thief is pretty much a linear experience, although there are a couple of ways to approach each objective; either way, exploration is very light. The game allows you to take a head-on approach if you want to, but Garrett is no fighter and if you take on more than two guards, you will most likely be cut down. You have a focus ability that helps you to detect possible alternative routes and extra things to steal but it drains very quickly and can only be rejuvenated with poppy leaves. The city is broken up into sections that each require a loading screen and can become frustrating as some of these sections are very small and can sometimes take a few seconds before you hit another loading screen. This broke up the experience a bit and the city never really felt alive; it also made me feel very confined, but this was most likely done to pump up the visual detail. The visual look and feel in Thief is brilliant. With it running on the Unreal Engine, there are some great lighting effects and the overall texture quality is very high. There is a very dark, gloomy feel to the city streets, which helps create a somber atmosphere and a paradise for those that don’t wish to be seen.
Garrett will steal everything shiny and valuable and you can use the money you make from looting to buy new arrow tips and tools like the wire cutters and the wrench. These items open up alternative routes to each level, so there is an incentive to go back and replay levels to try and get a higher score. There are also three challenge modes that are similar to those in Splinter Cell: Conviction, so even after the credits roll, there is more stealing to do. Overall, Thief feels very close to the original. The game might not be for everyone and the barrage of loading screens does mar the overall experience slightly, but at its core this feels like a Thief game that should steal many hours from fans, willingly so of course.