I have always heard about the Thief games as I was growing up but never had a chance to actually play. It was primarily a PC game until its 3rd installment landed on the Xbox and even then I never really got around to trying it out. The Thief reboot developed by Eidos Montreal is a great place to jump into the story but does it live up to the Thief name or fall flat on its face?
In the game you play as Garrett, the master thief. Garrett is a loner who make acquaintances instead of friends. Its understandable since the life of a thief is a dangerous one. Why make friends only to see them captured or killed? However as a master thief you need to pass your skills on to someone so he took the young thief Erin as his protege.
Garrett has been away from home, known only as The City for quite some time. Upon returning he’s found it to be in even worse shape then it was when he left and under the rule of The Baron along with the Thief Taker General. On top of that The City is being ravaged by a plague known as the gloom. On Garrett’s first job since his arrival in The City, he and his protege Erin are tasked to steal something called the Primal Stone. Things of course go wrong and Erin falls through a window. Garrett does everything he can to save her but she slips and Garrett is knocked out. This leads to Garrett beginning his quest to find out what had happened that night.
Thief’s stealth gameplay is solid. Moving from shadow to shadow using Garrets swoop ability–which is sorta like blink from Dishonored–without being seen is easy for the most part until you throw in other hazards. Things like broken glass and caged animals will alert guards to your presence but until they actually see you your safe. Its a great feeling to be able to break into an area steal everything that isn’t nailed down and disappear into the shadows without ever being seen, however this also brings me to the first issue I have with Thief.
For a master thief Garrett sure does steal a lot of junk. Just about anything he can grab he pockets but the things hes grabbing sure are petty for a master thief. Things like Spoons, forks, hair brushes and mirrors are just a few of the random things to be taken. There are much nicer things to steal like paintings, Faberge eggs and gold necklaces but they are much more rare then the crazy amount of junk our master thief likes taking. It makes Garrett seem more like a kleptomaniac then an actual thief.
Since Thief is a game all about stealth, combat should be avoided at all costs. I’m not just saying that because this is a stealth game but because Garrett is weak. Enemies hit way harder then Garrett does and he has very little to really protect himself unlike some guards who are dressed in armor. When combat is your only option though you at least have a few tricks up your sleeve. Garrett carries a blackjack that he can use to silently takedown guards or beat them up if you’ve already been spotted. Garrett also has his trusty bow with all different types of arrows like water arrows to put out flames, choke arrows to knock out animals, blunt arrows to hit switches and broad head arrows to kill enemies from the shadows. Garrets combat abilities can eventually get stronger if you put focus points you earn toward combat perks instead of stealth perks.
Moving around The City can be tricky and frustrating. The City is basically a whole bunch of alleys full of shadows, roofs and narrow walkways. Throughout the city there are a bunch of places to explore by picking locks to doors which is done by moving the thumbstick until it hits a pin in the lock or cracking open windows with a crowbar to get into homes which leads to my second problem with Thief. Quite often I found myself going in a window only to be met with a loading screen then upon going out a window on the other side of the room I’m hit with yet another loading screen. These aren’t long loading screens but with this being a next gen exclusive I’m surprised to find any loading screens at all especially considering GTA 5 on last gen hardware managed to create that whole giant world without any loading screens. Yes Thief looks much better then GTA 5 but its also way smaller.
Each of the 4 districts of The City are broken down into their own sections requiring a loading screen for each area which quickly becomes annoying. The loading screens don’t stop there though…kinda. During missions you may come across areas where you need to go through a narrow corridor and move a wooden beam out of the way. At first glance it seem these are there just to make it feel more real but I quickly realized when I was smashing the X button for 30 seconds to move the beam that its actually just hiding yet another loading screen.
Visually Thief is impressive. A lot of detail was put into Garrett, especially his hands. Since Garrett’s hands are like a gun in a FPS game you see them all the time so making them look real was important. The City itself is dark and gloomy but looks fantastic once the area fully loads. After the many loading screens the quality of textures is really low until they finish loading in. While The City and Garrett look good for the most part other character’s aren’t as lucky. For example you see the Baron in the opening mission of the game, his face looks like it was ripped from a PS2 game.
The voice acting for Thief is some of the worst I have heard for a AAA game. I know Garrett is supposed to be the cold hearted thief and all but there is almost no emotion in anything anyone says in this game. On top of that whats being said and what the lips of the people saying it are doing just don’t match at all, that goes for the subtitles too.
Thief is at its best when your sneaking around houses, dodging guards and stealing things without ever being seen. Thief’s ability to do stealth right is the major factor this game is based on and saves it from a truly terrible score but the host of other issues that plague it take you out of the game and make it hard to even want to continue playing. Moving through the city is time consuming thanks to the loading screens and confusing thanks to the terrible map layout. If this is what next gen means I think I’ll go back to my last gen systems where I can at least justify the loading screens.