Once upon a time, when names like Splinter Cell and Mark Of The Ninja were never heard of, Eidos Interactive’s Thief franchise was considered to be best in stealth genre. Most of the ardent fans would argue that Thief is still the best in stealth. While the current stealth genre is saturated with games that’s made accessible to a wider audience, Thief was both brilliant and exemptionally unforgiving when it came to stealth. The gameplay mechanics it had introduced then, were never seen before and it managed to garner a cult following throughout its sequels, Thief II and Thief Deadly Shadows. Huge emphasis was given for sound, and players had to be extremely careful how they choose to move in the game. Thief franchise followed the adventures of the main protagonist, Garrett.
It has been a decade since Thief Deadly Shadows and people have ever since been yearning for an all new Thief. Ofcourse the void has been filled with better looking, better playable stealth games like Splinter Cell, Mark Of The Ninja, Hitman et al. Enter the all new Thief game entitled, plainly and chronologically confusing, ‘Thief‘. Developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix, you once again step into the shoes of master-thief Garrett, stealing everything ever locked or hidden and taking you through a narrative which is best left forgotten. The story felt blotched and included bland characters and supernatural elements to it that felt like nothing but forced. The same goes for the lead Garrett. Having used to listening to Troy Baker’s excellent voice cast and performance, Garrett just doesn’t seem convincing enough.
Being a reboot, I expected huge changes and it did get a good HD cosmetic overhaul. You know its a game built on Unreal Engine when you see textures popping in, seconds after the game finishes loading. It does look good but its far from being tagged ‘next-gen’. Lets talk about gameplay shall we? You can Ghost your way through the city and past the guards and you also have the option to use your Blackjack to take down guards and take a more violent route the only catch being “It might not always work out”. As obvious as it is Thief rewards you when you play stealthily. You get your Bow and Arrow with a plethora of arrows, from fire and water arrows to rope and moss arrows. Move along, there’s nothing you havent seen before. One addition in Thief is the ‘swoop’ ability which allows Garrett to move about 10 feet forward silently and quick. You can swoop between shadows, and even behind an unaware guard to pickpocket or take him down. Another addition would be Focus, which lets you highlight points of interest. Its not something new but the addition is very welcome.
Thief was hailed to be a sandbox game and on paper it is, but when you traverse through the town you realize there’ll be a ton of loading involved. Agreed, the City is huge but the frequent loading screens takes you out of it. I was frustrated beyond anything when I had to go through loading screens to and fro parts of cities and even in and out a tavern. Couple that with a utterly stupid map and I can assure you you’ll find yourself lost and confused more than once. What was noticeable in the first Thief trailer was that it had Parkour. Its defintely not Mirror’s Edge but you can jump and climb your way through the City. Many times I was greeted with a nice intangible wall that made the parkour restrictive and inconsistent.
A good comparison would be Dishonored and I am perfectly aware that Dishonored does borrow a lot from the original Thief games but I standby Dishonored being a better Thief game than this iteration of Thief. In the end I am disappointed with Thief. It had so much potential but instead of a game that focused heavily on stealth mechanics and a relevant story they chose to make it barely enjoyable with an insipid plot and ho-hum missions. If you want to play a stealth game strung together with badly written story and missions then Thief would do just fine but believe me when I say there are better stealth games out there.