Hello everyone. I hope you are all well. It has been a little while since I last wrote a blog post, with the last one being my tribute to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since then I have actually gone to see Avengers: Endgame. No spoilers here, but I just want to say that it is a great movie and a very good conclusion to this phase in the MCU. If you have not seen it yet I urge you to do so as soon as possible.
It has been a long while since I wrote an article in my retrospective series “After The Fact,” with the first and last one being about the Mass Effect series. If you have not read it yet, you can find it here. Today I want to talk about the video game Thief. I actually planned to write this way back in March but other blog post ideas came up and I kept pushing this one back. Now that I finally have a bit of breathing space, I want to discuss this game, and man I have some things to say about it. I will try not to make this one as long as the Mass Effect article. Without further ado, let us get into it.
The Thief series started with the first game Thief: The Dark Project which was released on 30 November, 1998. The game was a first-person stealth-adventure title set in a medieval steampunk city. The story followed Garrett, a skilled thief who finds himself caught up in a conspiracy. The game was released to universal acclaim, with praise directed at its atmosphere, gameplay and narrative. The game was followed up by the sequels Thief II: The Metal Age released on March 23, 2000; and Thief: Deadly Shadows, released on 25 May, 2004. Both games were positively received. The first two games were developed by Looking Glass Studios and published by Eidos Interactive, but the third game was developed by Ion Storm and still published by Eidos Interactive.
The next Thief game, after Deadly Shadows, had a tumultuous development. The game was announced in 2009 as Thief 4 and was being developed by Eidos Montreal. The game was supposed to release on 7th generation consoles (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3) but would later be shifted to 8th generation consoles (Xbox One, PlayStation 4). The game was officially unveiled in March 2013 after much confusion and very little information. The game was also confirmed to be a reboot of the franchise. The game simply titled Thief and was released February 25, 2014. With all that background information established, let us discuss Thief. My brother and I played this game together. He played most of it and I watched him when he took the controls, but I would also help out from time to time so I also got a very good feel for the game.
The game follows series protagonist Garrett as he attempts to save the city from an unknown plague called “The Gloom.” I thought the story was good; not great and not bad, but good. The Thief series had always contained supernatural elements and this story was no different. Garrett had to confront human beings corrupted by “The Gloom” and many otherworldly obstacles. The story would take you throughout the city, exploring places like mansions and an asylum, the latter of which is a very important location to uncover more about the story.
The story does falter a bit towards the end of the game as it feels a little rushed, almost like some of the story was cut out maybe due to time restraints. The back-story and information about certain characters and the world is told through documents scattered around The City for the player to find. This is a good way of learning more about the story and even getting some information about characters you meet along the way. All in all, it was a good story and kept our attention till the end.
Oh boy. This is where Thief falls apart at the seems. Let us talk about the positive aspects of the gameplay. The stealth aspect of the game is done fairly well, with plenty of secret tunnels and hiding spots available to the player. Seeing as Garrett is a thief, there are many objects to steal, which provide the player with money they can use to purchase items, and rare collectibles can also be found all over The City. In addition to the main story, there are many side missions which task the player with stealing certain objects for specific clients. Some of these missions will take you to a new area with new challenges to overcome as you try to steal the item at hand. These side missions are great and well executed, and provide hours of gameplay to the main story. You can do these missions even after you have finished the main story, and they add replay value to the game as a whole.
Now let us talk about the bad aspects of the gameplay. The main one, which is also the biggest misstep of the game as a whole, is the map. My goodness. There is no two-ways about this: the map is utterly atrocious! I am not talking about how it looks, because it looks great. In fact, for a game released in 2014 the entire game is quite beautiful. The graphics really hold up. I am actually talking about how the map plays, and it plays horribly. Honestly, it ruins the game. It is that bad. We over-came it and many others did too, but it can really ruin the experience. The layout of the map just makes no sense. There is no rhyme or reason to The City, and the mini-map is just useless. You are better of just doodling your own map on a piece of paper and following that instead.
We spent hours trying to find the objectives because the map just made no sense. Eventually we came to know certain areas by heart, but when the game ended we were just happy we did not have to endure the horrendous map anymore. The hand-to-hand combat of the game was also sub-standard. This game is a stealth game so I am not criticizing the combat much. The parkour elements of the game also take some getting used to, because the movement controls are not the usual controls you expect from a game like this. The bow component of the game is unique, with different types of ammunition that you can use to help with any situation. Garrett also has a special ability that he can trigger to help him see things of interest and even enemies. Garrett himself can be upgraded to make him more efficient at everything, which is a welcome feature.
The soundtrack for Thief was composed by Luc St-Pierre. To be honest, I did not really pay attention to the soundtrack so I can not really talk much about it. However, during the action scenes I felt the rush and urgency that these moments tend to bring out in the player, and the music definitely had a hand in that. I was also thoroughly scared during the more eerie moments, like the asylum chapter, and St-Pierre made sure that the right sounds fit that scene. All in all, the music did not blow me away but it did its job.
Thief is a lackluster game. The story is good but almost every aspect of the game is a letdown. The gameplay can be engaging at times but the map ruins everything. Altogether, Thief is an underwhelming game. Thief is a reboot and was supposed to rejuvenate the franchise, but instead has put the franchise on hold indefinitely. Hopefully the franchise can come back strong in the future.
So that is it! Hopefully this one was not too long. I hope you liked it. Please let me know what you think. Thank you all for reading and I will see you all in the next blog post.