- Platform: 360, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, PC
- Developer: Eidos Montreal
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Release Date: February 25th, 2014
- Price: $59.99
- Official: Thief
- Reviewer: Chris
“Stick to the shadows for a good time”
Thief is a first person stealth game where you play as the master thief Garrett as he looks for answers to a pivotal moment in his past. The game takes you to some interesting places along the way and gives you a nice sense of the world he lives in as you progress. Now normally I don’t play many games that don’t give you a choice on how to play your character but I’ve wanted an engrossing stealth game since Dishonored and this game delivers.
Garrett, being a master thief, has many tools and weapons at his disposal. One such tool is a hook that you start with at the beginning of your adventure to help him reach higher vantage points. Other options are upgrades that you can ignore but that will make the game easier if you invest in them as quickly as possible. Some of the options that open up to you are extra vendors and extra ways to get around the enemy, so you can play this game more like a stealth ninja then a ninja assassin. Personally I liked doing both and the game rates you at the end of each level according to how you played. Did you fight your way through every enemy, hide in the shadows and wait for the right time to sneak by, or somewhere in between? Now this grading system doesn’t truly matter at the end of the game but its a fun way to keep track of how you’re playing your character.
Speaking of combat, your weapons in the game consist of different types of tipped arrows. You have your common water arrows to douse out flames, and you have your fire arrows to damage or set explosives off. You also have six other arrows that you can buy off of vendors “for all your nefarious needs”. They can come in handy, but the only arrows you truly need are the water arrows to get by light sources and even those you don’t need much. If you get caught in combat you’re going to see the downside to this game. Combat is terrible. Its so god awful it makes you hate even trying to get into a fight. This is good in a way, as it keeps you in the shadows as you are supposed to be, but games such as Dishonored let you upgrade to become one hell of a killer, this game lets you upgrade to become a snake in the grass, leaving combat an afterthought. Two great approaches and I think it sucks that both games didn’t come out at the same time to see which would reign supreme.
Stealth in this game is done really well, but in order for me (the player) to feel like I was truly hard to see, I put the gamma down, to give myself the illusion that it was total darkness down the hallway and that is why the guy with the torch couldn’t see me. It created a bigger sense of immersion and helped me feel like I was sticking to the shadows better, but it also caused me to hit a lot of things that I couldn’t see that were in my way, some of which the enemies heard and came to check out. This brings me to enemy A.I. this game got a bad rep for the A.I and I don’t understand why. Yes they give up easily but I’ve seen a lot of games come out with worse attention spans. If you’re caught in a place you’re not supposed to be the bad guys will chase you down and beat you till your dead, pretty common in video games. However if you’re caught opening a door or you step on broken glass and a guard hears or notices the door was closed earlier he will go to investigate, which is something I personally haven’t seen in a game, or at least in many games.
Even the friendly NPC’s will say something about the door being ajar before going back to whatever they were doing before hand. Its not an insanely awesome feature but when your sneaking around a corner and you hear a guard say “Hey that door wasn’t opened before, I should go check it out” you tend to hold your butt cheeks tightly till he’s gone. I even had an NPC look through a window with a torch trying to find me, I’ve never seen that in another game. If you are caught or if they think they may know you’re around the enemies attention meter will start to glow, till they absolutely know where you are and then it glows red and they yell and scream for everybody in the area to come help them kill you. Dogs, “friendly” NPC’s, birds, and broken glass will also alert the enemy of your presence, and or whereabouts. Overall I was not let down by the stealth or the enemies in this game. Some guards even chased me down till I hit a dead end and smacked me around with their swords till I was defeated, and I ran a good distance to try to get away from them. For the most part Thief is a pretty easy game when it comes to getting away from the enemy, but the A.I that is there is done well enough.
Graphics on the PC version are fairly good. Nothing to boast about, but well enough that it keeps you wanting to play. The main problems I had with the visuals were the rain and smoke effects. Now in some games they use that technique where the visual follows your eyes, so you can see a tree doing 360’s as long as you’re looking at it, this game is a step up from that, but not much. Effects look like a double sided mirror in this game. If you walk through heavy smoke and turn around there will only be light smoke, but if you walk back to the beginning again the heavy smoke effect is back. Its not a big deal but still weird, most people won’t be jogging back and forth to see smoke differences but its something I noticed. Rain looks good as long as you never look at a puddle, once you do the illusions over as it repeats the same four water droplets every two seconds. Now if you look up when its raining the rain will hit your HUD, which I like, and if you look down you will see Garret’s legs and feet (something rarely seen outside of Halo).
Story is where this game earns its bad reception. The writing is lacking in a lot of ways and like I said, your main objective is to find answers to something that happened to Garret a year prior. The story never turns into something memorable and from the opening cinematic you can pretty much sum up the tale and how it is going to end. While the story is sub par, the places it takes you are actually pretty cool. I had a great time exploring city streets, and asylums (especially when you first get thee, freaky!) maybe that’s because as a school field trip in NY we visited an old cell block that was said to be haunted and this just reminded me of it. Later on you get a bit of a twist in this stage which I really liked as well.
While I am not going to spoil the ending, I will say I was indifferent about it. I knew the story was going to be poor and I had guessed how it was going to end well before, but the last boss battle was…just bad. I played Thief and still jump into it from time to time because its the one game I own that lets me actually sneak around and feel more like an assassin then most of my assassination games. I load in, grab 20 arrowheads and sneak around and kill all NPC’s with a head shot and continue on my journey. I like that its simple, dark and moody and your player actually has a voice. Now that I’ve beaten the game he doesn’t really have anything to talk about but we’ll see if they make any DLC that expands on the main story, or at least adds some voice acting for when you hit a box because your gamma’s too low and you can’t see anything…
— Conclusion —
Thief is an enjoyable stealth game that truly makes you feel like its title implies, a thief. If you are itching for a game where you avoid conflict and stick to the shadows, this should give you what your after. If on the other hand, you want to be able to choose how you tackle scenarios, avoiding some guards and confronting others, you are better off sticking to something like Dishonored. Thief falls apart when you initiate combat, leaving you a helpless bystander as you are poked and prodded with sharp objects. While the story was forgettable and I had wished some of the maps were more open, I came away from Thief having enjoyed my time with it, it gave me what I was craving, fun sneaky bits with the occasional arrow to the skull. – Chris
- + Fun to sneak about
- + Enemy AI is decent
- – Story is dull and obvious
- – Combat isn’t an option