Thief, a first-person game from Eidos Montreal, sees Garrett return to consoles and PCs for the first time since 2004. It is never really explained by Eidos what genre Thief falls into as it seems to cover not only the stealth genre, but also action and heist genres. Is it worth picking up a game that is in effect a reboot of the series that has three games prior to this? Well, it worked for Tomb Raider so maybe it would work here too.
The game gently eases you into the role of Garrett and the skills you will use to steal your way to victory, or to stab your way there. It starts with a prologue chapter that introduces you to the ways of a master thief and pits you against another younger brash thief. The prologue ends in disaster, as all prologues do, and sets the mood of the story so that you feel motivated to play the game and see the story through to the end.
Garrett quickly finds himself embroiled in the midst of an uprising taking place in this world that is halfway between medieval and industrialisation – steampunk if you will. A variety of gameplay styles are available to you throughout each challenge, so you can Sam Fisher your way through in complete stealth and take a few bad guys out along the way, or you can just go action movie mad and take down everything in sight. Going the gung-ho action route is not really the best choice as you will find yourself either dead or running away very quickly to escape impending death. The best choice does tend to be stealth as much as you can, chucked in with the odd bad guy death and a hell of a lot of looting of anything valuable and not tied down.
Downloadable content is what extends games these days so when I got the game, the bank heist DLC was part of the game’s whole package. This DLC really shone above the whole game in terms of the objective and how you could complete it. The Bank Heist really lends to the roleplay you can experience as a master thief. Several ways are open to complete this and get that safe open, plus there is a lot of loot to walk away with too.
Thief has this wonderful colour scheme that suits the whole look and feel of the story and the game’s location. Lots of greys and browns, and anytime you step outside it is night and this just sits right with city and its inhabitants plus the whole main plot. Thief runs on the Unreal Engine and it does push the envelope with some great lighting and smoke effects that help the overall atmosphere. I did wonder why the windows of all the buildings you can break into do not have see-through glass, seemed a bit odd given the Unreal Engine’s capabilities.
There are side quests to do within the game and these can be done anytime you want to between game chapters. But given the value of the loot you acquire throughout chapters missions lets you easily purchase upgrades and replenish your ammo supply, and that you can store your ammo for later use, there is no compelling reason to do these side quests other than that you want to feel your inner thief. And it isn’t like the side quests are not great, they are quite fun. The jewellery shop is the first one you get to do and it is a nice little challenge that nets you some great loot. Side quests to deliver you a lot of the games collectibles too, so if you absolutely must collect everything in a game, expect to spend a great deal of time doing them.
Thief however is not without its flaws, and I understand that games will usually have bugs that the QA team missed but the sound issue on stereo, that is a problem. For the most part, the game tends to throw to many audio channels together for stereo and you get this awful reverb and you can’t hear what is being said. The worst example of this was the bridge bombing level where the environmental sound effects eclipsed Garrett’s dialog so much that at times I had no idea he was actually saying. Other times, the stereo mix failed dismally and you had to turn the volume up just to hear the dialogue.
Sound triggers were horribly timed too – most annoying is the trigger for random townsfolk comments that would lead to the same quote being triggered about five times within the space of less than a minute or two and the whole lot overlapping each other as they played. Multiple repeats of the same quote also became annoying if there were only two pawns in the same area of street you were in.
The textures kind of failed to impress given that this is a Next Gen console and PC game, they were really blurry up close on all buildings, NPCs, plaques and wood. It really brings it down in the atmosphere side of things when you’re leaning out from a very blurry crate to spy on what looks like a highly-detailed street.
On the PS4, the touch pad control is kind of clunky and it detracts a fair bit from inventory use when it fails to select what you have chosen and instead chooses the next item alongside or above/below.
Garrett’s voice actor is really pretty horrible – whether that is the actor himself or the direction he was receiving during voice recording, it is hard to say. You can see this in Final Fantasy III Lightning Returns and Mass Effect where Ali Hillis is great as Liara T’Soni but sounds very ordinary and flat as Lightning.
Despite setting the brightness in the game as per the whole setup you go through when you boot it for the first time, the whole town areas were so bright it was a wonder I did not have the guards spotting me as I am pretty sure they could easily have seen me standing/crouching there, in the not-so-dark corner, looking straight at them. If you went into the game and adjusted the brightness and then did the same for your display, you ended up with the horrible over contrast issue and the game then lost its look and feel.
All of these things I am sure will be addressed slowly over the life of the game but it does let it down as it now stands.
I was disappointed that this game wasn’t a full open world game from head to toe, all the gaming systems it runs on can handle this, so why couldn’t the developers do this? Time constraints? Money? Unless they come out and tells us or another game site gives us the behind the scenes, I’ll likely never know.
The whole ending was rather abrupt and also rather easy to do. It never really explained itself here when the story needed wrapping up, maybe some sort of epilogue would have been called for. Without that epilogue you are kind of left scratching your head and thinking, what was that all really about?
Is Thief worth your time? At between 10-15 hours of main story content, it is quite short. If you play all the side quests and the Bank Heist DLC, you can extended this gameplay time past that to maybe 25. There is no getting around the fact that this is a very short game. If it is on sale, sure grab it, but you are not missing out on too much as it does sit very much in the middle of this year’s releases. It isn’t a bad game; it just does not stand out from the crowd and get you super excited about playing it.
Thief is available on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. It also has a damned wooden beam in the way every time you squeeze through a tight twisting passage.