The first Thief game arrived on PC back in 1998 and was very highly regarded. There have been another two games in the series since then but this years title is the first to hit Playstation consoles and even makes it to the new generation as well.
The game tells the story of Garrett, the Thief of the title, who finds himself attempting to unravel a mystery after a catastrophic event leaves him in a coma for a year. Upon waking he discovers the city is on lockdown because it is being crippled by a disease known as ‘The Gloom’. As Garrett tries to get to the bottom of what has happened you’ll be making your way through lots of different areas of the city.
The game is viewed from a first person perspective and you are given a lot of tools to fulfill your role as master thief. Stealth is usually the favoured option, with lots of different routes in, and out, of places giving you plenty of options to plan your mission. You have lots of different arrow types (fire, exploding, water etc.) to help you either take out or unsettle enemies.
As part of a stealth approach, distraction is a decent option but it’s a lot less forgiving than straight up sneaking – when it worked it was great but a lot of the time it was just too easy to get caught by guards etc. Fighting is also viable but if you find yourself against more than one enemy you’d probably be better off retreating and regrouping.
Garrett also has a focus mode that you can enter to highlight objects you can interact with in the environment. It also helps improve the accuracy of you bow skills and increases your fighting abilities. These can be upgraded via a skill tree so you can cater your focus towards the playstyle you favour. I definitely found that focus was a big help, mostly when stuck on where to go next or if rumbled by a guard and I needed a quick takedown!
I liked the setting of Thief, the city has an oppressive air that suits the story and at times it looked fantastic but unfortunately on occasion it looked distinctly last-gen. I suspect this is just down to the game being released in the first 6 months of the new consoles lifecycle and having to be available on PS3 as well. Animation was pretty good for the most part and some of the stealth takedowns were cool, though it would’ve been nice to have a few more variations and they really should’ve made a custom one for enemies sitting, usually asleep, in chairs. As it stands you just sort of slap the air in front of them and they fall heavily out of the seat!
The game controlled well and I did feel it was just about forgiving enough (on Normal) for players like me that often mess up the stealth element and have to improvise. Enemy AI was fairly clever, checking around potential hiding places but not usually finding me. There were a couple of times that I ended up getting really frustrated but that wasn’t really during open world stuff, it was mainly during closed area ‘boss’ type encounters.
I didn’t really find the story that engaging and the ending actually passed me by – I had to look up a Wiki to piece together what had happened. I liked some of the side stuff that fleshed out the world though and some of the side missions where you actually had to steal things rather than kill a target were cool. Thief was a rewarding play when everything came together, there were several main missions that went (almost 100%) smoothly and they were probably the highlight of the game for me.
The elephant in the room of course is that 2012’s Dishonored essentially ‘out-Thiefed’ Thief and did it better in most senses. With more powers and some better implementation I would recommend going with Dishonored if you are choosing between the two but Thief is also a solid stealth/action game. There were flashes of brilliance during my playthrough but unfortunately, for me at least, at the end of Thief I felt confusion more than anything else.