When a franchise that is beloved by its fandom is rebooted, it is always going to be a divisive game. So in this instance an attempt has to be made to separate the game from its predecessors and judge it on its own merits. Last month after several years of development, anticipation and internet arguments, Eidos Montreal released the simply-titled Thief.
First off, the game looks absolutely beautiful. As you would expect the game has a heavy reliance on shadow play and lighting effects and it definitely delivers on expectations; the fire effects are incredible, the textures incredibly detailed, and even at the lowest graphical level the sky box looks fantastic. Sadly this does come at the cost of performance and older machines will definitely suffer.
The original games were so defining of the stealth genre, and despite being a reboot, expectations were high leading into the gameplay. Fortunately, the stealth and thievery mechanics feel amazing and the immersion into the world they provide are amazing. The inclusion of ‘focus’ (the in-game term for ‘magic eyesight’) means the game itself plays like Dishonored, which is fair because Dishonored played a lot like Thief. There are some RPG elements, however, which create a stronger sense of progression and are a much-welcomed component to the overall gameplay.
Sadly, the story, while not inherently bad, is quite frankly boring. The premise is similar to Dishonered in that the story is set in a plague ridden city with a generic evil upper-class member in charge making life difficult for the impoverished masses. There is also a generic evil henchman as well, who’s reveal was a tad jarring – you do not really need to witness a murder in cold blood in order to know someone is bad, especially when someone you are supposed to like does the same thing in the tutorial.
At the end of the tutorial your female companion dies, but given that you have only known the girl for around 5 minutes, it is hard to feel any involvement in this. The only thing she does is murder a guard. and it is not until you find out that she is the girl from the very last cutscene of Deadly Shadows (the final game in the original series) that you actually care about her death.
The voice acting is also painfully average. At times it is obvious that a single sentence was recorded in different takes, which is both jarring and ruins all sensation of immersion. The sad thing is is that the game has been in development essentially for seven years, you would think they will have had this stuff sorted.
Adding to the disappointment, the levels themselves are fairly linear. Whilst there are multiple paths, each one is a predetermined line from Point A to Point B, and you simply chose which of the three to use. Sadly the sprawling nature of the old games that demanded exploration is only present in the hub world. The levels go by a bottleneck system, such as one part where the player can clearly see how the conveyor belt they rode in could be used to ride past a locked door, but it is impossible to grab onto and is not moving despite being clearly in reach. The minute you unlock and go through the aforementioned door however, it is suddenly moving again and you have to grab onto it.
This linearity in the levels is also very clear in how rope arrows function. In the old games they could grab on any wooden surface, but now they have to be fired at very obvious wooden beams that only exist for the rope arrows. Nevertheless, the game still provides a challenge, and the lack of any form of blade weapon means sticking to the shadows and remaining unseen is the way to go.
It becomes a struggle to fall in love with this game – many were hoping for perfect, 5 out of 5 scores, but the multitude of criticisms that can be made about it are too obvious to ignore and therefore knock the score down. Previous fans of the series should still try it out though, and some may find it provides a welcome experience for newcomers.
Quench Verdict: 3/5