Platform: Xbox One, Xbox, PS4, PS3, PC
Publisher/Developer: Square Enix/Eidos Montreal
Genre: First Person Stealth
Describe This Game in Three Words: Stalk, shoot, run
Plot: Garrett, the antihero master criminal of the cult hit series Thief, returns to the strange and dark City after more than a year away. The strange, steampunk metropolis is suffering from a mysterious plague and is currently under the brutal rule of a dictator called The Baron. Garrett plans to exploit the shadows to his advantage, stealing everything he can get his hands on.
Up, Up: Thief is the first game I've seen on PS4 that really made me take note of how much better the graphics are on the eighth generation consoles. Playing the game is literally like walking into some insane DeviantArt gallery, and it instantly immerses you. Though I was initially skeptical about doing stealth in first person, I have to admit that it does make the experience more immersive.
One of the things to really love about Thief is the way that it makes that environment come to life much like Bioshock did with Rapture. All around the City are tons of documents, posters, and little looks at the lives that the citizens live and they help build as important a picture as the main story itself. That's the sort of solid world-establishment that so many other gamemakers miss sometimes.
Exploring, stealing, and picking the purses right off the backs of the guards is devilishly fun, and feels in many ways like the upgrade from Square's last Hitman release. The challenge and the grim darkness of the world of Thief add even more challenge and motivation, and strangely makes a man that dares to be a criminal in such a place into even more of a hero.
Down, Down: When playing Thief I was reminded of a quote from The Hobbit.
A really first-class and legendary burglar would at this point have picked the trolls' pockets -- it is nearly always worthwhile if you can manage it -- pinched the very mutton off the spit, purloined the beer, and walked off without their noticing him. Others more practical but with less professional pride would perhaps have stuck a dagger into each of them before they observed it. Then the night could have been spent cheerily.
Thief tracks your manner of playing, whether or not you aim to simply skulk in the shadows and steal or silently eliminate targets with your bows and loot in peace. I have to admit that the latter is a lot easier most of the time. The problem with so many stealth games is that the realistic amount of hiding you can do in plain sight in real life seems completely outside the realm of possibility in the game. Because of that there often feels like there's no solution that doesn't involve murder, which is in direct opposition to the tone of the story.
Eventually you get the hang of it, but the learning curve is steep and just a little too forgiving of the concept of giving up and turning into a serial killer.
Left, Right, Left, Right: Jump puzzles in first person perspective is usually a recipe for severe annoyance. Luckily, Thief tackles the concept more like Mirror's Edge and you rarely get the impression you can't see your feet. If nothing else, Thief is a terrific example of first person movement done right.
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Not to come back to it, but your ability to deal with problems using arrows instead of sneaking is ridiculously easy. Selecting the appropriate weapon for the moment on the PS4 involved finally learning to use the touch pad, but once you do it's not such a bad way to access your inventory.
B, A: The most hopeful thing I seen in Thief has nothing to do with the game itself, but the fact that it further cements the future of Square Enix tackling Eidos properties with seriousness. Tomb Raider was a triumph and Thief is not bad by all accounts. Does that mean there's hope for Legacy of Kain to return outside of that team battle vehicle we've already seen a glimpse of? We can only hope and wait.
Start?: Thief is a prime example of how far the ability of gamemakers to craft believable fantasy environments has come. The game is in a class by itself in terms of gameplay provided you have the patience and skill to learn to be a master thief. If not, you're probably going to tire quickly as the plot, while greusomely compelling, is really nothing especially notable. The true story is becoming the night as Garrett.