Thief Review

👤by Tim Harmer Comments 📅07-03-14

Title: Thief
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PC, XBOX 360, XBOX One, PS3, PS4
Genre: First Person Stealth
Price: £35 MSRP
Approx Completion Time: 14 hours

Minimum Specification

OS: Windows Vista with Platform Update for Windows Vista
Processor: High-Performance Dual Core CPU or Quad Core CPU
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Graphics: AMD Radeon 4800 series / Nvidia GTS 250
DirectX: Version 10
Hard Drive: 20 GB available space

Recommended Specifications

OS: Windows 7, Windows 8
Processor: AMD FX 8000 series or better / Intel Quad i7 Core CPU
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Graphics: AMD Radeon HD R9 series or better / Nvdia GTX 660 series or better
DirectX: Version 11
Hard Drive: 20 GB available space*

*note that during installation Steam briefly increased the games footprint to ~50GB

This review contains minor spoilers from the first hour of gameplay.

Thief: The Dark Project, created in 1998, was a standout title in a year punctuated by other classic video games including Half Life, Starcraft and Unreal. It is credited as the inspiration for strong stealth mechanics in first person titles such as Deus Ex, and the Dark Engine was the basis for another classic: System Shock 2. Looking Glass Studio’s legacy therefore is not to be trifled with, as legions of fans will attest.

This new Thief is part sequel, part reboot. Set hundreds of years in the future, it divorces itself in time from the key organisations and personalities of past games to approach the franchise with a clean slate. Although referenced surreptitiously, events of the previous titles aren't obliquely referred to within the core story structure of the new game. Whilst that may disappoint some purists and long-time fans, it does allow newcomers to approach this instalment without knowing the ins-and-outs of the world's backstory.

The City: Home of the Occult and Soul of the game.

The central location in the Thief franchise is The City. That's all it's known as, and as such doesn't have the historical baggage a specific real-world location would have. It resembles Victorian London - down to the narrow and winding streets and alleyways - but with an almost oppressive perpetual night. The technology on display is a mixture of the benign and bizarre common to steampunk universes, where pumps and pathways hide traps and other pitfalls for the unwary. Nonetheless an undercurrent of pagan mysticism flows inexorably through it, long suppressed.

Labyrinthine streets and sit below a thieves highway of platforms and ramps which allow traversal through The City's districts. It feels very much like you might expect a Victorian-era town to feel - oppressive, dangerous, and menacing to any opportunistic footpad; however as Master Thief Garrett you are anything but a mere footpad. And yet, it is somewhat disheartening to realise that apart from the ever-present guards there's simply not much life to this town, where even at night you would expect some bustling and many more people. Were it set in the future you would almost call it dystopian.

You take the role of Garrett, a master thief like his ancient namesake but with a young protégé under his wing - Erin. Within minutes of their introduction he professes an aversion to violence. Not, you understand, because he is a coward; rather because it is messy and leaves far too obvious a trail. Erin has no such compunction, rendering her targets unconscious or dead with a crack of her ‘Claw’ - a modified tool for climbing that goes beyond a simple blackjack. Where Erin prefers mobility and action, Garrett utilises stealth to reach the payoff.

It is this clash of styles which precipitates the tragedy that concludes the prologue. Erin and Garrett stumble on a ritual being acted out by the city’s ruling elite, the purpose of you know not what. Erin takes one too many risks and when happened upon by the city Thieftaker General both she and Garrett tumble into the ritual. The outcome is predictable: Erin is missing - presumed dead - whilst Garrett wakes up a year later with no memory of the intervening period. The bulk of the game story is uncovering the mystery of Garrett’s amnesia and discovering Erin’s fate, developing your skills in theft and stealth along the way.

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