Thief: Stealth without the bells and whistles

10272961_623515034397818_144938934_oNOWADAYS, the market is saturated with stealth action games. With Assassin’s Creed steadily holding up the banner and Watch_Dogs approaching release, Thief may have slithered under everyone’s radar, which is an absolute shame, considering the franchise is considered the father of the stealth genre, ever since its beginning in Thief: The Dark Project in 1998.

Staying true to its roots, Thief plunges you into a nondescript Victorian dieselpunk city (aptly named The City), drowning you in its dark, chokingly foggy atmosphere. Once again, players step into the obscenely quiet shoes of Garrett, renowned master thief, as he plunders his way through the City, uncovering a trove of secrets along the way. Standard, yes? Of course. But that’s not what you’re here for.

Wonderful mechanics

Thief has always been known for its wonderful mechanics, and they’re all in full force here. As Garrett, players can use a plethora of gadgets from water arrows to put out faraway torches, to noisemaker arrows, capable of distracting guards, helping you relieve them of those pesky watches, wallets or any other valuables they might have. The shadows are your friend in this game, and its importance is stressed via a simple light meter on the side. All these combine to create a very satisfying sneak and pillage through the city shadows.

However, don’t expect to be a master assassin. As the name suggests, Garrett is still just a thief. Open combat is extremely clumsy and almost frustrating, with only a blackjack to defend yourself and the guards don’t fall as easily when they’re fighting you as they do when they’re blissfully unaware. While this may seem like a logical step forward, it’s still highly frustrating.

Repetitive

Another problem this game has is the open world itself. Areas get quite repetitive, and while the promise of a sandbox world is there, the tools simply aren’t. Instead of hooking onto any surface, the rope arrow can only latch onto predetermined nodes all around the city, which severely limits its potential.

But what this game lacks in open world replayability, it more than makes up for in difficulty. Thief boasts a customisable difficulty, where players can turn off certain abilities and options, such as removing the HUD completely. These options give players extra points per mission, and they can stack themselves against players all over the world through an online leaderboard, which certainly feels more satisfying than a simple in-game achievement.

The game also boasts a trove of collectibles, scattered all throughout the game, from paintings to jewels and everything in between. If it looks valuable, chances are it’s a collectible. Either way, non-usable items are immediately turned into gold, saving players the tedium of selling their stolen wares.

Last thoughts?

Overall, Thief checks all the necessary ingredients that made the first game such a landmark. However, it certainly feels empty and not nearly as full as its younger counterparts. But what it lacks in adventure, it more than makes up for in the challenge. The customisable difficulty option as well as the plethora of collectibles makes this game more of a veteran’s obstacle course rather than a scenic sneak through memory lane. Compared to its more recent descendants, Thief is a stripped down stealth game. No extra baggage, no fancy decorations. Just pure, unadulterated sneaking.

Check out the trailer below (This video may be inappropriate for some users).