For a game that will reward a vigilant thief with a fetish for valuables, the latest “Thief” game liberates itself with gold and glitter.
The problem with this is inflation. If I find coins at every corner of the street, I suddenly get less incentive to strive for every sparkling value the developers put out.
I think it’s about how the developers role-play the player before and now. In the previous games Garrett was a pretty useless figure that needed everything he could gather of technology and tools to survive.
Garrett anno 2014 is almost a killer machine similar to most other game characters – but in a game that is never near to give you the same flexibility and gameplay you’ll find in, for example, “Dishonored”.
The game never takes any position as to how to approach a job, and never gives you enough incentives to follow a game style or code.
What once about patience, precision and planning is now more about adrenaline and impulse games, shadows are laid out in front of you in a path so you can easily escape critical dilemmas, they should appear.
In other words, Eidos is completely indifferent to who Garrett should be, despite crumbling all bows and edges with terrible movie sequences, a killing idiotic plot and useless dialogues and characters.
Nothing at stake
Why do I spend a lot of time writing locks when the process is only a formality without any implications for the rest of the game? Why do I have to break windows from both the outside and the inside?
Why is the most valuable resource in the whole game of empty bottles I can throw to distract? Why are outdoor areas sprinkled with cabinets perfectly adapted to an adult human being? Why is sound such an insignificant factor in a game that’s about sneaking around?
There is nothing ever at stake. The guards who stroll around manage to follow your tracks as they discover you.
Where is the seamless hunt?
I am constantly reminded of how wonderful these scenes were in the “Assassin’s Creed” series, where the journey continued from street level to rooftops and wherever you might try to hide.
In “Thief”, your persecutors manage to follow you through doorways, which is an absolutely absurd contrast to the horrible electronics soundtrack that explodes in the background as you are revealed.
Is it like now my adrenaline will start pumping?
A small portion of the game consists of such things, by the way – running sequences, burning buildings and pumping music that make it seem as if Eidos has refined the intended course that follows after Garrett involuntarily enters the limelight. But the matter is of course the opposite – they really do not know, and do not even have a game engine that makes opposition or retreat with interesting solutions.
Not that it’s usually a problem to find out what to do in “Thief”. The screen is overloaded with indicators that point and scream to you, with filters pasted over the screen that light up all that may be of relevance. Blue is good, red is dangerous.
Some genres use this to facilitate the work of finding pixels on the screen. Eidos uses it as a crutch in the design of its environments, making it incredibly difficult to find any kind of mastering feeling behind your burglary and all the “secluded” secrets.
The parts of the game that work best are the same moments your nostalgia romanticises from the first games. We are talking about the mansion, the castle or the courtyards – classic, dimmed surroundings with architecture that made it interesting to play thieves and experiment with your tools.
It’s about the only times you’re rewarded to look through the choir of alternative arrows and technology, and always a welcome opportunity for developers to color the outside world and make it feel inhabited through posted journals and writings.
The problem is that these moments represent a very small fraction of the overall picture, which also applies to this new game. If you give me open levels, some flexible tools and the ability to mess through someone else’s drawers and cabinets, I’m in heaven. But in “Thief” I can almost count these moments on one finger.
Partly, this with the idea of the open world developers are trying to sell you, where the city you work from acts like a base station between all your missions, but that usually only feels impolite and impeccable.
Not only that the surroundings are sad and sad to climb around, they show so tiny changes from the point of view that it is almost ridiculous that the game at all suggests that you wander through the maze for each time.
It helps them blow up with side assignments that really let you examine all the hooks and hooks. But when this is only thrown on you as an afterthought and upholstery, it’s very difficult to invest yourself in the economic gain.
If you meet people, they are either offenders or patrolling guards. Should you break into a place, it feels like you break into a blank alcove with a pair of gold coins. Developers really confuse transparency with brainwashed employment here, in a setting that deals very much about repetition and predictability.
Are you looking for a “snikefiks” there are lots of cool alternatives. «Mark of the Ninja», «Hitman: Absolution», «Dishonored», «Deus Ex: Human Revolution». The latter from the same developers.
This year’s “Thief” feels like an immeasurable imitation in relation. I’m not a fan of “Thief 3” either, but at least it had the “Shalebridge Cradle” level to cope with.
This version of “Thief”? Harder crashes for desktop than any other game I’ve played in the last decade.
«Thief» was released to PS3, Xbox 360, PC, PS4 and Xbox One on February 28th.