Preview: Thief

Shannon and Diego got to spend 3 hours with Thief at a recent Square Enix event.
Thief is out on PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360 and PC on February 27th.

Thief Shannon
Shannon Thief
Thief is a game series with a huge old-school following. The main question I had when I sat down to play the game was how much it would appeal to todays gamers who want more action. The thing I noticed immediately with Thief is that it’s extremely unforgiving. You will die a lot.

We got to sit down with the game for about 3-4 hours and nothing was off limits. The new Garrett is an extremely interesting character and one which you will want to know more about. He gives off a very roguish and mischievous vibe and this definitely adds to the atmosphere that the developers were aiming for.

When I first got into the game I realized that the developers and artists had really nailed the much darker vibe. The games environment is extremely dark all over but still has a ton of personality. Every house that you enter really tells a story and that’s one of the most important things that I noticed. You genuinely care about the lore and want to learn more about it. One of the most important things to note is that the same studios created the game among current-gen and next-gen consoles so hopefully all versions should run perfectly.

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There are a bunch of locations to explore which we’re assured that fans of the series will remember from older games. Whilst I felt that the locations did get a bit repetitive after a while, it was the overall charm that really kept me interested and wanting to play.

I’ve never played a Thief game but I’ve heard a lot about the series. Fans of the originals will be glad to hear that most of the key elements are still intact. The game primary takes place in the first-person and is still all about staying in the shadows to avoid guards. You will occasionally enter third-person when scaling buildings but it never felt like I was pulled out of the experience because of it.

The game is split into a series of chapters and each mission can be tackled in any way you please. You’ll be glad to know that there are a ton of secret passages so the collectors will have a hard time ever truly finishing it. At the end of each chapter you will be scored based on how quickly you finished the chapter, how much loot you collected and how stealthily you got through the chapter.

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The clear thing that I experienced is that Eidos Montreal really didn’t want to force you into any certain play style. If you get caught by the guards, they’ve now handed you the tools in order to smack them down and get away. The game still heavily requires you to be stealthy to be successful, but it definitely allows you to attack scenarios in different ways.

You now have a blackjack in your arsenal, a claw which is used to grapple and a compound bow which is used for combat and non-lethal purposes depending on which arrow you use. Finding out which arrows work best in which situation is one of the best things about the game. Approaching a situation in one way, dying and then using a completely different way to get through that area is extremely satisfying. At the end of each chapter you can upgrade your skills and replenish your armoury.

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The newest addition to the series is the new Focus ability. You will be happy to hear that the amount of time that you can actually focus before your meter runs out is really limited. When you’re in Focus mode you can see important items, clues and enhance your combat and pick pocketing skills.

The PS4 version has quite a few specific features. The touchpad is used to select between arrow type and health items. This works incredibly well and makes the whole experience a much smoother one. The light bar on the controller reflects how hidden you are with a use of the white light. Voice commands can be used on both systems in order create distractions and shout at the guards.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time with the game. There is definitely a niche market for the game and I think that series veterans and newcomers a like will enjoy it. It’s definitely a punishing game, but expect that you will have a satisfying experience when you finally figure out how to get past that set of guards. 

Thief Diego
Being my first time experiencing a game on the ps4, my first impression of Thief was just how good it looked and how much attention to detail was put into every single aspect of the game. Everything in the environments was full of detail, and the characters looked great too, although I will admit that the environments was what impressed me the most, the characters looked slightly inferior in detail in comparison.

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In the game, you play as Garret, an anti-social master thief who is in the constant lookout for treasures in his city. Considering that this game is a complete reboot of the franchise, no previous knowledge is required to pick up this game. Nevertheless, fans of the franchise will find numerous find the gam to be kind enough to them, as there are numerous nods to the older instalments of thief in this new reboot.

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Previous instalments of Thief we were told were quite limited in what options you could approach to complete your objective. The games were much more constrictive and strict with the player, forcing them to constantly stay hidden, never providing proper options for people who wanted a more action oriented or more in-your-face kind of gameplay, the new Thief is here to amend that. One of the main gameplay features that was pointed out to us by the developer was that they were very careful to provide the player with all the options they needed to play the game however they wanted, balancing every single nook and feature in the game to function fairly in any sort of play style. Thief is a stealth game at its core, and always has been, but the option to rampage about and being noisy is there, it’s just very difficult to survive in that situation. This of course, also works out, for the players out there who are looking for a more interesting and difficult challenge.

Considering that the game is very open to lots of play styles, the game options and difficulty are very customizable for any kind of player. There’s the generic easy, medium and hard options which we are all familiar with, and there’s also several, more advanced options that can be turned on or off for extra layers of customizable gameplay for those daring enough to turn those on.

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Garret’s old trusty bow makes a triumphant return, and it packs quite a more variable punch this time around. There are several kinds of arrows that Garret can use in order to get through different situations, from arrows with blunt ends that are shot to create sound distractions for guards, to water arrows that are used to dissipate fires that could reveal your presence. These arrows are all of optional use; it is up to the player to decide what sort of approach to take in used them, if at all.

Even though Thief looks quite impressive in the next gen system, my only gripe with the title is the lack of variety in the core gameplay. Sure, you are presented with multiple options to accomplish all of your goals, which is pretty ambitious, considering that all of these must be balanced to perfection in order to be enjoyable, but the core gameplay is always the same: be in the constant lookout for loot to steal. The environments are technically beautiful, but they seem to lack a distinct variety. Everything happens during the night, and everything has a dead, sombre, or dark look. There is no variety to the environments that you go through.

Gameplay is linear in the sense that the game has a set path for you to get through, providing you options along the way of how you wish to approach that path, be it immediately, or after completing the side quests the game has. The options are there, but the gameplay still manages to feel like a race to get to point a to point b, without much creativity or variety for me to be truly feel like I’m free within the city.

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People who have played elders scrolls games, or even assassin’s creed will find definitive similarities with Thief. The first person gameplay of Thief is awfully similar to that of oblivion, even going as far as including the “eye” detection mechanic, were an eye appears above certain characters’ head which starts to shine when you are detected, and is opaque when you are unseen.

The unique touch pad of the PS4 was used quite effectively as an inventory space, swiping with your fingers and clicking to use certain items in your pack; it was quick and intuitive. There’s also going to be voice options for the game, to distract guards and such, and there will also be a companion app that can be used in iOS, but we didn’t get to try that in the play session.

In the end, Thief looks like a very impressive achievement in terms of technical detail, but it lacks in the creativity department. The gameplay is nothing I haven’t seen in other games, and the repetitiveness didn’t click with me. It is a fun game to play with lots of things to discover and see, but honestly, I don’t think I would play this game more than one time, replay value or not.