First, I need to apologize. A little while ago, I wrote an article about my favorite series starring one player character. If I’d given myself more time to reflect and incubate, I’d have given the top spot to the character who most deserves to possess it: Master Thief Garrett from the Thief series. Sorry, Commander Shepard. Consider that list updated with everyone else bumped down a peg.
When I wrote that list, I hadn’t played any of the Thief games for a while. I’m currently in the middle of replaying Thief II: The Metal Age. Does this set my expectations of the new Thief very high? Of course it does, but the game has marketed itself as the legacy of an extremely well-regarded series. I can’t even allow Eidos Montreal the handicap of unfair expectations. They already managed it once with Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which is about as well-liked as a successor to a notoriously good game can possibly be.
Granted, the story isn’t very different from classic Thief. Supernatural-meets-steampunk aesthetic, warring city factions, and poor, sullen Garrett gets dragged into a social allegory against his will. So what makes this one less satisfying? If I used one word to sum it up, I guess it would be “toothless.”
The story is hopelessly one-note, filled with unlikeable and wooden characters, including Garrett himself. He doesn’t have half of the original Garrett’s deadpan sardonic humor. Most of the over-scripted jokes fall completely flat.
Speaking of flat, the city which functions as the mission hub is about as interesting as a model home and looks just as lived-in. After just two missions, I was already sick of walking around the place, and I got so bored I’d alt-tab out of the game for a Netflix break between rooftops.
The graphics are also poor for a game supposedly tailored for the new console generation. I like that you can see Garrett’s body, but do we really need to see his preternaturally spindly fingers hovering in a fist on the side of the screen every time he crouches, like he’s about to take part in the world’s most lackadaisical boxing match?
Do I have anything nice to say? Well, yes, the stealth mechanics are alright, somewhat. The guards are abnormally prescient when they want to be, but the really strange characters are the crows and dogs. You could scoot across the ground like a snake with new skin and they’ll still hear you. Still, when the levels bother to let you have some fun, you can pull off some good heists.
Bottom line: Skip the new Thief; buy the old games. This game failed to live up to the potential it claimed to have had.