Thief is a series that needs little introduction to most gamers that have been playing since the late 90’s at least. It’s a stealth series based around the protagonist Garrett, and his steampunk-style world in which he is the master thief. The original games (coming in 1998, 2000, and 2004) were loved by many of fans of the stealth genre. Of late the genre has flat-lined a bit with the only true stealth games still around being the Metal Gear Solid franchise and the occasional new IP like Dishonored. Franchises like Splinter Cell and Deus Ex still exist, but have slowly incorporated more and more action elements into their games. Thief (2014) was supposed to be a throwback to the original games, bringing Garrett into the next-generation of consoles and providing the kick the stealth genre needed to get back on track, but it’s not quite the savior needed. The game does have it’s fun moments, but is marred by technical issues and a lackluster plot. Not to mention the next generation versions (PS4/Xbox One) looking like PS3 and Xbox 360 games.
The gameplay in Thief has its parallels to the recent game Dishonored. It’s first person stealth, basically, so you see your hands when crouching (sneaking). Generally you’ll be doing your best t sneak around each level keeping an eye on the on-screen light meter showing how lit up you are. Each environment typically has multiple paths to each objective and you’ll find loot littered along the way, loot is how you make money in the game. You’ll deal with guards, choosing to bypass them altogether (sometimes you have to) or take them out (sometimes causing you to fail missions, so be careful) and you’ll be rated at the end of each mission and it will show how you played that mission (stealthy, loud, etc.). There are also a set number of things you can steal, and even special items typically hidden away in safes you must find and pick the locks on. I enjoyed this aspect as it gives each mission replay-ability and allows you to try to better your score (and go for the no kill, and all stealth achievements/trophies). Garrett’s tools are probably the best part of the gameplay, allowing you to navigate the level “puzzles” with things like water arrows (to extinguish torches) and more. These items allow you to see how many ways you can figure out to navigate each area. The gameplay overall is a bit wonky, especially during some of the free-running sections, but overall it works well enough. It didn’t feel quite as nice as games like Dishonored, though. Friendly tip to those playing on Xbox consoles, turn off the Kinect roll in the menus. I found myself randomly rolling when I didn’t intend to and learned that moving my actual body would make Kinect roll me in-game. A bit frustrating to say the least!
The story in the game is really nothing to write home about. It follows Garrett in his return to his home city in the midst of a plague. Well, the intro to the game introduces Garrett as he’s following around a companion and things very quickly go awry. Garrett wakes up a year later, somehow, and finds the city in worse shape than when the accident that took him out for a year happened. A mysterious sickness is affecting the people and Garrett resolves to get to the bottom of it with help from his network. Overall the plot is okay, but nothing to write home about. It’s too bad, as this game could have really been something special.
Thief is a game of disappointment. Not in that it’s inherently a terrible game, but more so that it could have been so, so much more. A blockbuster return to one of the favorite stealth franchises of the past 15 years should be a monumental game, instead Thief has turned out to be merely okay. The gameplay suffices and the plot keeps a thread of interest (albeit small) to keep you moving forward. After playing through the game I only wish that it could have been something more. The industry needs more stealth games and Thief just ins’t quite what I was looking for, no matter how “okay” it is overall.
Thief Gameplay Trailer