Thief Review

Thief Review
Review Score7
  • Why so high? Enjoyable gameplay, eye-candy art style and visuals, difficulty customization and options

    Why so low? Slightly lacking story, tedious side missions, repetitive conversations and audio playback, messy mechanics and controls

It is impossible to escape the past, and Thief is no exception, with it’s obvious flaws and inconsistent story it might seem like a no-go for most people. But despite it all it keeps shining as one of the only real first-person  stealth games in the market and brings in that unique gameplay back to life in Eidos Montreal’s reboot of the ground-breaking series.

As you take the role of Garrett, the righteously called Master Thief, you will make your way through The City; a city-state which is suffering from a disease called the Gloom and that’s at the verge of collapsing. Ruled by fear, The City is your stage and thievery your play, and with the right tools and the right information nothing is out of your reach.

What’s yours is mine

As I started Thief I chose to directly approach the game in a custom difficulty, given the many options I was given to choose from and being both challenged and rewarded for increasing the difficulty sounded like a good idea. While what difficulty one chooses to play should not change the game’s overall experience it certainly did in Thief. While an easier difficulty might lead to more action packed gameplay and less troubles, I had a lot of fun trying to complete different mission stages by just memorizing guard patterns, timing events, saving every couple of steps and going thought a long process of trial-error that would eventually lead to a satisfying completion of my objectives and a racing heart from adrenaline.

Playing as Garrett felt like jumping in into a roller-coaster of good and bad experiences. While most of the equipment is the same as previous games, those being a bow, a set of different arrows and a blackjack; the developers have done a great job to compensate the amount of new more “agressive” kind of arrows and removed the sword Garrett used to wield in previous titles. On the other hand lockpicking, removing traps and finding secret switches and puzzles are another important part of the gameplay, the first one being my personal favourite with a system that’s as simple as finding the correct mouse position to set each of the locks open.

“Thief has remained faithful to it’s stealthy gameplay”

However not everything about the gameplay felt that good; “swooping”, also known as quickly moving from point A to B almost undetected, is a great mechanic the game has implemented, but that has become a must-use if one wants to complete missions and often makes the game feel a bit more fast-paced than it should. To make matters worse the swoop, climb and jump moves share the same bind key, which makes one often get spotted after unluckily performing an action he wasn’t planning to do. Another ability one will be using a lot is Focus, and while I can personally assure you it’s not necessarily something you need to complete the game it really is game changing and somewhat off-putting difficulty-wise as it makes it easier to find things and perform some of the most basic actions like lockpicking or sneaking around, despite that it is kept well balanced and doesn’t interfere much. One final thing I didnt quite like about the gameplay was the change in the previous games’ “rope arrow” a simple arrow that used to be able to stick to any surface is now ony usable in certain parts of the environment and it somehow adds to a feeling of linearity.

Developer: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS4
Release dates: NA: 25th February, EU: 28th February

With all those problems in hand the game feels sloppy gameplay-wise, however there are a couple of other features that make the game shine and a clear example of it is the way it has remained faithful to it’s stealthy gameplay. Now that might seem like something obvious and not that surprising, but Thief remains as one of the few games that require for you to be stealthy to complete them. Sure one might argue there are many means to kill enemies in Thief, but none of them seem efficient enough to stick with during the whole game, but rather during some parts of it and only if the player wishes to.

Welcome to The City

It takes time if not the whole game for one to realize what is going on in Thief. The plot itself is rather disappointing due to a lack of consistency and very superficial characterization. You get to play a short prologue that adds to the many inconsistencies and confusing jumps to the story and prepares you for 8 chapters and some side missions of pure thievery and stealth.

Another aspect I liked about it was the story-telling, and I don’t mean the actual main mission plot, but rather The City’s stories, how you get to read, listen and discover so many things during the game is really amusing; I easily found myself reading over 30 notes in a single mission just out of curiosity and even though some were short and whatnot uninformative they really managed to add a bit more information to the game and they somehow set a lore to it, one that Thief unfortunately lacks in-game and which certainly does no good to all the confusing gaps it has.

There are rumours about the game being set in the distant future of the original universe and some references to the old games can be found in this one, however as the reboot this is and looking at the story as a standalone game I felt like the story left much to desire.

Perhaps one of the greatest aspects of the game is all the work put into the art and overall visuals. Thief is full of Steampunk and Gothic elements that really make The City an amazing place to explore and to just look around in. Lurking in the shadows and pulling off hard manoeuvres in this kind of setting was really satisfying, one truly feels like a thief and that’s one of the things that immerses you into the game and makes you feel like you are part of it.

The Verdict

Despite the huge mess the story is and the way the game has taken a step backwards in terms of gameplay and mechanics it still holds it’s place as a great stealth game and it provides a great experience long lost in gaming. Thief is unique in many aspects and never ceases to surprise me, while it’s true the game needs to be worked on the overall experience isn’t bad and there are very few visible flaws to the game to anyone picking up this game for the first time. I personally recommend this game to anyone who wants to try something different and is ready for a difficult yet rewarding playthough.

Eidos Montreal might need to work on Thief a bit more if it plans to release a sequel, and in that regard I wouldn’t want the series to die yet, there’s a lot of potential to it and I certainly look forward to see Garrett again.

To hear more about Thief, listen to our podcast episode: “Oh man, Thief….”