I was rather sceptical about the Thief series returning to our living rooms. In a post-Dishonoured industry, comparisons between the two were always inevitable. Both are stealth games and both are similar in tone and aesthetic. Unfortunately Thief lacks in story and features clunky gameplay, which the aforementioned Dishonoured does not.
The voice acting is pretty flat and the lip-synced dialogue is pretty poor. The main character Garrett is not a likable character and it is hard to relate to him in any way. The game is decent enough in terms of looks, but the PlayStation 4 version often struggled to reach 30 FPS. The game’s environment is also plagued with frequent loading screens that last upwards of 20-30 seconds. The game often feels claustrophobic and linear, but environmental puzzles do add a bit of variety to the game. The game’s lighting is absolutely fantastic. You can use the shadows efficiently and effectively when taking on different scenarios. Unfortunately the linear level design often makes it obvious as to what you need to do. The AI is not revolutionary in the slightest, but enemies react accordingly to corpses and missing items.
Garrett’s movement is clumsy and awkward. Navigating The City becomes a tedious and frustrating affair after 15 hours. Jumping from ledge-to-ledge can be a challenge but in a sense that is a good thing. The combat is a clunky mess, with repetitive animations and predictable AI attacks and counters. It’s easy against one enemy, but it gets very hard when multiple enemies confront you. This is a good thing as the game promotes the use of stealth in a positive fashion. Patience is a virtue whilst prowling the streets. This may involve slipping past a guard’s patrol pattern or silently taking out enemies one-by-one. It’s tough but ultimately rather satisfying when completed.
Garrett has a selection of trick arrows available to him. These include fire, water and rope arrows, which only work on specific objects within the environment. The master thief also has the swoop ability available to him. The player can dash 15 feet, meaning you can get past gaps and back peddle out of trouble with relative ease. Garrett also has a Focus power. Using this helps identify interactive items within the environment. This is extremely helpful as the game is fairly dark. Upgrades are also on offer to enhance the replayability. This includes the ability to make lockpicking easier.
Some scenarios offer multiple approaches. The game lets you decide how you get in and out of a building. You can use vents, basements and rooms instead of barging your way through the front door. It offers a decent amount of replayability because of this. Players are rated on their approach to a mission thus if you are a perfectionist like me, you’ll find yourself repeating sections in order to get the best possible outcome.
I think it’s safe to say that Thief does not quite live up to the standard of Dishonoured. It’s strong stealth mechanics are overshadowed by a weak story, clunky gameplay mechanics and a bland main character. This is a very average game indeed.