December 11, 2019 at 12:46 AM #1535
Rating: 2.5 – Playable
True to its name, Thief will steal hours of your life that you will desperately want to get back
The Thief series was once the measuring stick for the stealth genre, with every other game being developed as a stealth game homing to live up to the legacy of Thief. The franchise has been dormant for many years, but it has now been revived for next-gen consoles. Simply put, Thief should’ve stayed dead.
This new Thief is basically a worse version of Dishonored. Garrett has a variety of supernatural powers at his disposal that can be upgraded to help him be a better thief, or be better in combat if players want to take a louder approach. The thing is, these powers are extremely boring and unimaginative, and the combat in the game is atrocious, so while the game says there are many different ways to play, but there’s really only two.
One option is to sit around in the shadows and wait for guards to move by and sneak around. This can be fun sometimes, thanks to pretty well done levels that feature a lot of areas to explore and secrets to uncover. The most thrilling parts of Thief are when you’re trying to unlock a chest to loot the treasure inside knowing that a guard could come up and catch you at any moment.
The other play style is simply running through the levels at a sprint, which is way too easy to abuse and sucks all the challenge out of the game. Some would argue, "That’s not the way you’re supposed to play", but this is a developer issue. The game shouldn’t be able to be broken so easily by running by the enemies, but it is. Ever have trouble with a stealth section? Just run right by and you’ll be fine.
Platforming has a bigger focus this time around, but it is very linear, Assassin’s Creed style platforming. Besides sneaking and looting, the running and jumping is really all that you do. There are sometimes interesting puzzles to solve and secrets to discover, but these great moments are bogged down by a whole lot of terrible ones.
There is one level that is actually very, VERY good. It is set in an asylum and has a horror vibe to it, which is extremely effective. It flips a lot of the stealth mechanics on their head and features challenges that aren’t really seen that much in other parts of the game. I enjoyed this level quite a bit and thought that it was extremely well designed, with a great atmosphere and brilliant use of the gameplay mechanics. This level is really why I didn’t score Thief even lower than I have already.
Perhaps one of the dumbest design choices in the game is the use of a hub world for the levels. This makes the idea of visiting the merchant in the game an absolute nightmare considering that guards are constantly walking around the streets and the rooftops are deadly as hell since you can make one wrong move and fall to your death. There was absolutely zero need for a hub world in Thief. It doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t fit, and it just feels forced in there for the sake of forcing it into the game. I am afraid the "hub world" is quickly becoming the new "online multiplayer", shoehorned into games and experiences where it simply does not belong.
Thief is quite gorgeous at times, with fantastic textures and a fantastic atmosphere that is built up in combination with great voice acting and great music. The presentation in Thief is undeniably stellar, but there are aspects of it that falter, namely with the story, which is absurd, stupid, and full of paper thin characters that constantly do things that make no sense in regards to their character’s motivations and how they act elsewhere in the game.
Another thing that bugs me about Thief is that this game does not belong on eighth generation consoles. There is absolutely no reason for it to be released on Xbox One or PS4 for that matter. Yes, the graphics are prettier, but so what? There is nothing here gameplay-wise that couldn’t be done on the previous generation of consoles. These cross-gen games are rarely a good idea, and we’re seeing yet another example of a cross-gen game that is split up between two generations and fails to live up to its potential on either generation of hardware that it is released on.
Thief is a weak stealth game that is outclassed by other stealth games that have come out recently, namely the fantastic Dishonored game. Fans of the genre have much better options than this, and the game is honestly just a lazy effort full of bad ideas that seem like they were added to the game just so the developers or publishers or whoever is at fault could cross items off of a checklist. Maybe it’s better if Thief stays dead this time.
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