Thief: Flirting With Average

I caved in and ended up purchasing the new Thief game at release. I am actually having quite a bit of fun with it (despite having put it down to fawn over Diablo 3 once again). So in other words, it’s not the gaming anti-christ as portrayed elsewhere. However, I can’t quite shake the feeling that Thief is merely a shittier version of Dishonored, which is kind of ironic given that Dishonored was influenced by the Thief series. I am pretty sure though that this feeling stems from the blink-like swoop mechanic (hit the space bar to move rapidly from shadow to shadow) and the fact the world that thief partakes in is quite different; It’s more Victorian than steampunk if that matters all that much to anyone. Graphically the game looks and performs nicely, but is aesthetically lacking and probably one of if not the most ‘brown’ game that I have played to date this year.

The levels are way less open to the point of being literally scripted in a few portions of the game. The parts of the game that are fairly open are based off of a path based design reminiscent of Deus Ex Human Revolution in that the multiple points of entry are presented in the form of conspicuous pathways (conveniently placed wooden overhangs shootable by rope arrows, vents that you can unscrew, ladders that can fall down, etc). The problem is that these points points of entry are WAY too conspicuous to the point of being blatantly highlighted and pointed out to you even when you are not using the focus skill. There’s not a whole lot of room for creative thinking there.

Between missions, different parts of the game are accessed through a hub world, which aside from a few guards who patrol the street level is more or less dead. I mean, I can see why there wouldn’t be many people out and about in the middle of the night in shit town amidst a plague ridden city, but the odd thing is that it is as if absolutely no one lives in the city. The hub world has lootable houses and areas strewn about the city but they are all for the most part, generically decorated rooms that are absolutely void of life and personality. I think the greatest challenge that I faced thus far in this area was one or two traps? There’s just not a whole lot of fun sneaking around if there’s no one to hear or no threat for that matter.

Thief however despite its flaws, is probably the crowning jewel of all PC ports in terms of what the game allows you to change. It’s seriously the one place in which this game shines above virtually all others is the sheer amount of customization that you can make to the game settings. If there is a UI element or a game mechanic that you dislike, odds are that you can just turn it off. This includes but is not limited to the focus system, navigation waypoints, the light meter, etcetera.

If you are expecting a modern rendition of Thief the Dark Project then you are most likely going to be sorely disappointed. Yes, it does fall way way short of its predecessors. So is it a bad Thief game? Undoubtedly so as it doesn’t really add anything positive to the series and arguably detracts from it. Is it a bad game overall? Not really. Completely ignoring the Thief tag, I would probably rate it as a decent average game. Oh by the way: I would recommend playing on the highest difficulty with the waypoints and focus system turned off right off the bat. These are the settings that I feel are as close the spirit of the previous games as possible.

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