Published on March 16th, 2014 | by Andy Bell0
Thief is the fanciful dream of some developer to produce a gaming masterpiece in a tightly cornered area of gaming. The problem that presents itself in Thief is that the game will not appeal to everyone. While most people will try generic FPS titles or action games (even if it does not directly relate to one’s “comfort zone”), Thief concentrates all of its efforts around stealth and only stealth, making it difficult to give an objective opinion, especially as I sit in that tight corner.
This statement aside, Thief does present itself in a spectacular fashion. Coming from Square Enix, they have yet again excelled our expectations when it comes to visual standards; the whole game is presented with beauty and grace. It is set in a Victorian/steampunk era where old buildings meet new and the landscape and the visuals whilst exploring the area are stunning. This coupled with the lighting effects gives a very dramatic and interactive feel for the environment that you reside in.
As for the game’s story, Square Enix are one of the great story tellers and they have yet again proven that they can deliver a great tale. While it is important not to give any of the plotline away, it’s fair to say that it involves fantasy, drama and a fair share of well-presented cut scenes, so things are pretty clear cut. But sadly this leads us to the point where we head on to the downfall of the game as while the storyline is well presented and involving, no matter in what direction you approach the game you are always sneaking, stealing, doing more sneaking and doing lots more stealing!
One of the largest gameplay issues that I found that lets Thief down is the lack of the ability to play through the game differently. As with other games that rely somewhat on stealth, let’s say for example Assassins Creed, apart from a couple of areas when stealth is a must, you can generally turn the game on its head and run through the game like a knife wielding mad-man but Thief doesn’t give you this option. There are elements of combat presented to you to use like your wrench and a bow and arrow, although using the combat is very tricky and often the odds are against you. Firstly, there is no way of really blocking an attack; while you have the ability to dodge, I found this very ineffective and clumsy and killing with your bow is also extremely challenging. While the two items you have may look like weapons, it’s very clear that they are just tools to aid you in stealth. All in all you would have to be nuts to try and progress throughout the game using combat only.
That said, there is a great satisfaction to the game. You get to rob elegant houses blind while sneaking within inches of a guard. This does leave you with satisfaction but also with a chilling tense feeling that they might spot you, call their mates and cave your head in within a heartbeat. The lighting and attention to detail within all of the environments you encounter is top class and is really geared towards aiding you in not getting spotted, often presenting different paths to choose to reach an objective; from the being out in the open approach to finding one of hundreds of secret passages dotted around the area that put you right where you need to be in a flash. The score is fantastic, adding to the atmospheric tone that the game already presents, right down to the random encounters and conversations from behind a closed window which are a joy to listen to and are seldom heard twice. Some of the levels in the game are so atmospheric and creepy I must confess to jumping out of my skin! I can truthfully say that I have not had that experience in a while.
As you can expect from a game like this, there is plenty to keep you busy with side missions, additional main mission objectives, rare loot to collect and a mass of areas to explore. Thief also has a skill upgrade system to increase your sneak, lock picking and a host of other skills to aid you in your “nocturnal activities”. You also have your regular “back-ally dealer” that will provide you with better armour, wrench upgrades, arrows and a great deal more, but at a cost of course.
Thief truly is a spectacular game full of wonderful visuals, environments, challenges and interaction. But, having said this, only if you find this type of game appealing … If you don’t, you will find a pretty looking but repetitive game with next to nothing in gaming diversity.
Summary: Thief will not suit everybody, but for people who find a “First Person Sneaker” appealing, you will not find a finer game!