It might well steal your heart... Or your money
After playing a game like Thief for an extensive period of time, you begin to see the world in a different light.You see a break in a group of people as a means of escape, a low hanging roof signals a vantage point and a locked door looks like an opportunity for monetary gain. In the real world, these things are wrong and immoral, but these boundaries don’t exist in Eidos Montreal’s latest outing. Your goal is to hop from rooftop to ledge, filling your pockets with trinkets and loose coin in order to continue gathering collectibles for your own benefitSquare Enix have been behind a number of rejuvenations of established franchises recently such as Tomb Raider, Deus Ex and Hitman, all of which were great re-inventions of the existing franchises. Whether or not these should stick to the original source material, and be remakes rather than re-inventions is a matter of opinion but Thief falls into the camp of being a new spin on an old franchise.
Lights OutOriginally launching on the PC back in the day (1998 to be precise), Thief caused quite a stir being dubbed as one of the best games ever made. It still raises many an anecdote within the gaming community, but for those like me who never experienced the original title, where does that leave you with this new title?
Does it give you a clean slate to start from, appreciating something that may not relate to the original? Or has it got too much expectancy placed upon it from the stories of the previous titles? As it happens, it’s more than likely the former rather than the latter.
Garrett finds himself in somewhat of a jam when he returns to his home, dubbed simply as The City, and a planned heist goes sour. Along with his protégé Erin, he falls foul of a magical ritual being conducted by the ruler of The City; The Baron. Whilst Erin meets an untimely demise, Garrett survives yet has acquired mystical powers (Focus Abilities) which allow him to conduct his business in a more efficient manner. Waking one year later, The City is in a worse state than ever with the disease, The Gloom, spreading rapidly throughout the slums and wiping out the population. As such, Garrett takes it upon himself to find out what’s happening, exact revenge on The Baron and cure The Gloom.
Waking one year later, The City is in a worse state than ever, with the disease The Gloom spreading rapidly throughout the slums
Exploring The City is a rewarding endeavour as there are plenty of avenues for reconnaissance via back-alleys, rooftops, air vents and open windows. You’ll want to make the most of the routes open to you as walking the street is dangerous. Guards patrol them regularly, whilst alerted pedestrians may also make your presence known to the nearest patrolling unit. To that extent, this is a proper stealth game. None of that half-baked business where you have to swiftly move past the odd guard as a token gesture, here your success boils down to how patient and sneaky you can be.
Going all out and taking guards head-on won’t get you anywhere. Garrett is underpowered and rightly so, he’s a thief so he’s bound to be small and nimble rather than a great power house. Of course, when you find yourself in a jam you can escape via rooftops and hiding in the shadows, but guards are persistent and will search for you exhaustively.
Smooth CriminalEach mission and objective is based around this, which is excellent. A successful heist sees you ducking in and out of shadows and finding innovative ways to sneak past the on-duty guards.
Whilst the game feels like a constant fetch quest, because you’re a thief after all and you’re out to steal objects, it doesn’t really get boring. The time spent analysing rooms and formulating ways to get past guards makes up for some repetition which is found within Thief.
On your path, there are items scattered throughout the world which you can hoover up as you pass them, or you can spend all your time purposely looking for them. In the end, this benefits you as the collectibles are obtained for gold which can be spent on equipment, upgrades and consumables, all of which will help you in your adventure.
Some treasures are locked in drawers, stashed in safes or hidden behind false paintings which are rinsed and repeated throughout. It seems every citizen in The City has a safe hidden behind a fake painting or a secret stash in an alcove.
You can utilise the equipment at your disposal in order to make your journey that little bit easier, which you will need. Without them, your task is infinitely harder and much more challenging which some may want, but the game is challenging enough even whilst using them. Rope arrows allow you to climb to higher places, water arrows extinguish open flames, wire cutters allow you to disable traps and a wrench opens up locked vents.
The focus abilities give you a greater edge over your unsuspecting targets as it lights up secret switches, reveals hidden paths and highlights important items for you to steal. However, certain environmental areas are constantly highlighted out of focus mode; hanging ropes and vents which you can climb for instance. This defeats the object of having focus mode as it reveals your path without the need to engage focus mode at all.
The inventory management system on the PS4 will split opinion as you equip items using the touch pad. It’s a nice touch that works well, you run your finger across the pad to highlight an item and push it down to equip. Whilst it’s not 100% effective, with a rogue digit sometimes bringing up the inventory menu accidentally, it allows you to equip different arrows without breaking the flow of the game.
Thief is hugely atmospheric and the lighting is superb. Having your TV set correctly boosts the effect of shadows and pools of light which you need to avoid in order to remain undetected. There is a constant feeling of tension throughout as you never feel at ease with the threat of a guard sneaking up behind you or stepping on a trap which may or may not put an abrupt end to your heist.
But whilst the game puts its best foot forwards in atmosphere and stealth, the AI leaves a lot to be desired. To say that some of these guards are on duty to protect heirlooms and valuables worth a significant sum, leaves you wondering how on earth they were employed in the first place sometimes.
They patrol the same section in a formulaic and often predictable manner, whilst they mutter and talk to themselves idiotically on repeat. They loop the same selection of lines constantly, leaving you wanting to club them round the head to shut them up rather than to aid your mission.
Other than the dialogue that Garrett has with himself throughout the game and during missions, the rest of the speech in Thief leaves something to be desired. Guards talk over one another constantly, whilst the dialogue flows in the incorrect order and in some sections the audio is far too quiet in comparison to the backing music. Even those with good hearing (I consider myself to be one) will struggle and hastily switch the subtitles on.
The transition between sections is also quite dull, the same sequence is played where you slide between a few stacked crates and shove over a fallen support beam. The first time you do this, it feels quite sneaky but it’s hard to believe that the same set of crates and support beams are stored in exactly the same manner. The slow texture pop-in is hardly flattering either, with a delay of a good few seconds before the world comes to full detail and decides to load up.
- Hugely atmospheric
- Stealth mechanic is excellent
- Varied missions
- Broken dialogue
- Poor AI
- Repetitive mechanics
Thief PS4 ReviewThief is a good game, and the main problem with it is exactly that; It's good; nothing more and nothing less. It won't blow you away in terms of graphics or game-changing mechanics. It plays perfectly well and is hugely enjoyable, but feels like it should have released a couple of years previous, which is probably down to the delays which were experienced during development.
Comparing it to games like Dishonored isn't entirely fair as the two games are different, but you can't stop thinking that Thief will always walk in the shadows of Arkane Studios' title. What's more, people will always draw comparisons to the old Thief games when playing this, which is inevitable, but given it's a rebrand as opposed to a remake it should be appreciated for what it is rather than what it is not.
Many will probably wait for this to inevitably drop in price before picking it up but this is worth playing sooner. It's a perfect game when viewed as a stop gap between bigger titles, but don't expect it to hold your attention for any great length of time.
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