- Release Date: February 25, 2014
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Developer: Eidos Montreal
- Genre: Stealth
- Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
- Platform Chosen by Reviewer: PlayStation 4
Thief takes place in a fictional location known only as The City, which is run by a dictatorial Baron whose rule is maintained through oppression. The City runs on a class system; the wealthy continue to be healthy and isolated from the poor, who are struggling and dying. To make matters worse, a plague called “the gloom” has begun to ravage The City, flaring tensions and causing an uprising against the Baron and all those who follow his absolute order.
Garret, Thief’s protagonist, is a master thief who trusts only himself and relies on his skills to get by. He became a thief out of necessity and remained in the position because he enjoys it. Even the most well guarded possessions of The City are not safe from his reach. While Garret is struggling with the newly formed militia dubbed the Craven and led by a man named Orion, as well as the city guards, he must also deal with one important problem in his life: the night in which he lost a friend and subsequently left one year of his life in the shadows. While Garret encounters seemingly supernatural experiences which he believes to be haunting him specifically, he must find the truth. What happened that night and what does it have to do with him?
While I feel that the narrative can feel a little confusing at times, I almost attribute that to Garret’s personal confusion. It seems to be a matter of you knowing as much as Garret knows about what is going on, which is one way to build a connection between the player and the character. It is not negative, from my perspective. Merely another way to connect you to the game. It all comes together as the story progresses and the characters and plot work together to keep you hooked in from start to finish.
Thief has been described as pure stealth and it truly lives up to that description. The gameplay is centered around stealth and all of the genre’s aspects from combat to simply thievery. While you do possess weapons, you are strongly encouraged to avoid all out combat and instead opt for a one-on-one/stealth approach to fighting. Knocking enemies out from behind or avoiding them entirely is the best way to make it through an area generally unscathed. Once an enemy is alerted they will inform others in the vicinity and a group of armed guards with swords will definitely be the death of you unless you can run and hide. The enemies you encounter throughout the game have an awareness of their surroundings making it difficult to escape them on the ground. This makes taking to the rooftops an important and viable means of navigating the environment.
The weapons you are equipped with are a composite bow and a blackjack. The bow may be equipped with a variety of different arrows such as fire arrows and rope arrows. The arrows can be used to either kill your enemies or to traverse the environment easily and/or manipulate the environment to your favor. The blackjack is a non-lethal weapon used to deliver a knock-out blow to the heads of foes. It can be used as a means to quietly incapacitate an enemy from behind or beat them up face to face, the choice is yours. Garret is also given the Focus ability early on in the game which allows him to see secrets and hidden items throughout the environment. Focus makes combat easier and traversing your surroundings a breeze. There are various specialty upgrades to be unlocked for the Focus ability throughout the game making it a key component to the gameplay as a whole.
Navigating your surrounds can be fun and profitable if you utilize your equipment properly. There are various secret rooms and stashes to be found that may be full of all kinds of worthwhile goods for the taking. Theft is the name of the game, so keep an eye out for glimmering objects that may be lifted and looted as virtually everywhere in the game is embedded with something to steal. Each object you steal gives you gold which is the game’s currency and is used to purchase equipment and upgrades for Garret. There are locked doors and boxes for you to open up through lockpicking and guards with satchels just asking to be pick-pocketed. Thief encourages its players to get crafty, really looking in all the nooks and crannies for hidden objects, collectibles, documents, and items.
If you are in need of extra gold or are just wanting to spend some extra time venturing about The City, there are a good amount of side quests to be acquired which accomplish both of these things. The side quests are simple enough, usually a “steal X thing from X person” format but they can be very profitable as well as informative. A couple of them even lead into client contracts which are basically a series of specially themed side quests from a specific individual. The side quest system adds plenty of extra hours to the game and are a great way to earn gold and upgrade Garret’s abilities.
Thief as a whole is a very pretty game. The textures and graphical resolution are top-notch on the PlayStation 4 and PC, though the game appears a little dark on the Xbox One. As for last generation systems (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360) the game looks very pleasing, though it obviously doesn’t live up to the newer console/PC versions. The City appears to feature a sort of clash between Victorian and Gothic era environments and steampunk elements. It’s a very interesting environment to explore and traverse about, it’s also very visually appealing. One flaw in regards to the environment is that it is segregated into various small sections, each with loading screens between them. So in each of the main sections of The City there are lots of smaller areas, to get around you have to go through various quick, though no less annoying, loading sequences. This breaks the immersion a bit and can become a bit of a hindrance if you are attempting to get from point A to point B with any kind of speed.
There are also some issues with sound on most, if not all, platforms. At times the sound will not be synced with the characters dialog and there is also an issue of hearing a specific side conversation all over an area of the game in full volume, even after the people having the conversation are far behind you. The dialog and voice acting themselves are really well done though, despite the sound issues that occur here and there. Romano Orzari, the voice of Garret, does an absolutely fantastic job of bringing the character to life and making him relatable and fun through the power of voice acting. Thief also hosts an impressive original soundtrack, one that seems to amplify the energy in combat scenarios while also bringing an element of enchantment into the environment.
Thief is the epitome of unadulterated stealth and it succeeds in all aspects that define the genre as well as many others. With a difficulty systems that caters to all types of players, from the not-so-stealth-savvy like myself to the professional shadow lurkers, it’s truly a game that can be enjoyed by a wise range of gamers. I’d highly recommend Thief if you are looking for a fun, stealth based game with great characters and narrative. It is definitely a must play of 2014.