Thief (2014 video game)
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
Thief is a stealth video game developed by Eidos Montréal, published by Square Enix, and released in February 2014 for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows video gaming platforms. Feral Interactive brought the game to macOS in November 2015. It is a revival of the cult classic Thief video game series of which it is the fourth installment. Initially announced in 2009 as Thief 4, it was later announced in 2013 that the game is a reboot for the series.
The game is set in 'The City', a dark fantasy world inspired by Victorian, Gothic, gaslight fantasy and steampunk aesthetics. Players control Garrett, a master thief who embarks on several missions focusing on stealing from the rich. Players may approach levels in a variety of different ways; players can choose the action oriented and lethal approach, where players will disable or kill enemies on their way to their destination, using knives and takedowns, or opt for the non-lethal stealthy approach, where players minimize interaction with NPCs and the environment in order to avoid detection. Players also may choose which path to take to their destination, as each location contains several branching paths.
Upon release, the game received a mixed critical reception, with critics praising its replay value and stealth gameplay, but criticizing the map layout and story.
Players control Garrett, a master thief, as he goes about a series of missions, most of which are focused around stealing from the rich. As with the previous games in the series, players must use stealth in order to overcome challenges, while violence is left as a minimally effective last resort.
There are a variety of routes through each level and players are able to utilize a variety of playing styles to traverse them. The game contains a variety of ways to distract or kill guards, such as barrels of oil which can be set alight. Levels also contain money and valuable objects which Garrett can steal; these are immediately converted into money which can be spent on equipment and upgrades. Garrett is also able to pickpocket guards and other characters. The player may evade guards by hiding in shadows or around corners and is able to peek around edges and through keyholes in order to track the movements of enemies. Once Garrett has been spotted, guards and other non-player characters will attempt to hunt him down. The developers have stated that the game's artificial intelligence is aware of the level design, and as such guards will know in advance of potential hiding spots that the player may be utilizing.
Players may enter a "Focus" mode, which provides several advantages. It enhances Garrett's vision, highlighting pipes that can be climbed, or candles that can be put out to make the area darker. Focus can also slow down time, so that Garrett is able to steal more effectively while pickpocketing. Garrett can also use Focus to push enemies or perform debilitating attacks. It can be further upgraded over the course of the game.
Garrett carries a blackjack, used to knock guards unconscious; a collapsible, composite bow, which can be used for both combat and non-lethal purposes such as distracting guards; and a claw, which can be used to grapple onto higher ledges.
An experience point system for the in-game growth of the character was meant to be used in the final game, but was later scrapped after negative feedback from fans, and to reflect the fact that the character was already a master thief.
Thief is set in a dark fantasy world inspired by Victorian, Gothic, and steampunk aesthetics. Garrett, a master thief who has been away from his hometown for a long time, returns to it, a place known only as The City, and finds it ruled with an iron grip by a tyrant called the Baron. While The City is ravaged by a plague, the rich continue to live in isolation and good fortune while the poor are forming numerous mobs against the authorities. Garrett intends to use the volatile situation to his favor.
A reboot of the series, the story is set several hundreds of years after the original events in the same universe, with clues to the backstory being hidden among documents, letters and plaques. The original master thief Garrett's (known as the legendary Sneak Thief) iconic mechanical eye is one of the hidden unique loots in the game that can be found inside of a prison complex. Other references to the original series include the Keepers, Hammerites and the Old Gods, with ruins relating to them being visitable locations throughout the City and beneath.
During a night of revelry in the City, Garrett, a thief of exceptional skill, finds himself hired by his contact Basso to steal something from the estate of Baron Northcrest, the ruler of the city. To assist him on the job, Garrett finds himself working with Erin, a fellow thief who tends to be reckless in her actions. While seeking a way up to the roof of the Baron's manor, Erin kills a guard with her claw, causing Garrett to chastise her for doing so without a legitimate cause. Upon coming across a skylight on the roof overlooking a large hall, the pair witness Northcrest leading a group of men into conducting a magical ritual. Having a bad feeling about the job, Garrett calls it off, only for Erin to disagree and attempt to complete the task. Upon noticing that Garrett stole her claw to prevent her from using it to kill again, a struggle breaks out between the two, resulting in her falling through the skylight and disrupting the ritual while being influenced by the energy being channeled. Garrett, who fails to save her, soon falls into the hall and is promptly knocked out.
Garrett awakens one year later to find that the City is being plagued by a disease of unknown origin called "The Gloom", and that the city's guards are maintaining a lockdown on the various districts as a direct result of the situation. Returning to his hideout in an abandoned clocktower to consider his next move, Garret receives a message from Basso requesting his presence, whereupon after expressing his concerns over the incident at the manor, he hires Garrett to steal a ring off of a noble's body at a foundry that is being used to deal with the victims of the Gloom. Despite being nearly caught by the Baron's right-hand man, the Thief-Taker General, Garrett successfully completes the job and soon finds himself introduced to a man called Orion, the leader of a resistance movement working to bring down the Baron as a result of his tyranny, who hired him to steal the ring. Agreeing to help him, Garrett ventures to a hidden brothel to find a book, visiting Erin's hideout in the process and experiencing a vision of her mentioning a place called Moira Asylum. Shortly after completing Orion's job, Basso is arrested by the General, prompting Garrett to rescue him, while also breaking into the Baron's most secret vault and recovering a piece of a mysterious stone called the Primal, which he had witnessed being used in the ritual at Northcrest's manor. With this piece in his possession, Garrett experiences another vision, revealing to him that Erin is still alive, but under the influence of the power from the stone.
Deciding to search for her, Garrett decides to explore Moira Asylum to find out where she is, but only uncovers the second piece of the stone within the building. Unable to find her, Garrett decides to return to Northcrest's manor and confront the Baron, just as Orion sparks a revolution on the City's streets to overthrow him. Finding Northcrest in a tower of his manor, the Baron reveals that his ritual intended to harness the power of the stone in order to use it as a new energy source, until the ritual was disrupted and the stone fragmented, resulting in the Gloom being unleashed into the City. Orion transpires to be the Baron's illegitimate brother Aldous, who took advantage of the chaos that ensued to arrange for his downfall, and that he now seeks the Primal for his own purposes. Realizing that the final piece of the stone somehow managed to embed itself into Garrett's eye, the Baron drives him away. Seeking information on the stone, Garrett visits one of his informants, the Queen of Beggars, who informs him that the Primal must be reassembled and its power contained, not only for Erin's sake, but also to save the City from the Gloom. Breaking into an old cathedral and finding Aldous using Erin to help him heal citizens, unaware that his 'cure' eventually transform them into monsters, Garrett finds himself in one final confrontation with the General, before pursuing Aldous to his hideout aboard a ship called "Dawn's Light". Just as Garrett attempts to dissuade him from using the Primal's power, Erin suddenly unleashes it, killing Aldous in the process, before attacking Garrett.
After a lengthy fight, Garrett manages to calm Erin and reassemble the stone, returning her to normal, just as she hangs off the ship above the waters below. As she slips from his grasp, Garrett chooses to do as she asks and throws her down the claw. After being blinded by a flash of light, Garrett awakens to find the claw embedded in a wooden post, implying that she managed to save herself, yet notices that she is nowhere to be found, as dawn arrives.
Thief was initially announced in 2009 under the working title Thief 4 (stylized as Thi4f), after rumours of its development. Developed at Eidos Montréal, the game was handled by a team other than the one that made Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The development team was initially kept small, and the game remained in concept phase for a long time. During this, numerous experimental design changes were proposed, such as having a third-person perspective, having a new protagonist, or environmental clambering similar to the Assassin's Creed series of games. The general manager of the studio, Stephane D'Astous, was quoted as stating Thief 4 was currently in early development: "We're in the early development stages for Thief 4, but this is an incredibly ambitious project and a very exciting one. It's too early for us to offer any specific game details. Right now, we are focused on recruiting the very best talent to join the core team at the studio and help us make what we believe will be one of the most exciting games on the market." After some gossip that several major members of Eidos Montréal left their jobs, D'Astous countered these claims by saying, "We will be able to be a little more communicative later on, hopefully before the year's end. Right now, Thief is our priority and we're putting everything behind it to make sure it's as successful as our first game". In January 2013, NeoGAF found LinkedIn files that indicated network programmers were working on the project. Eidos Montréal was expanded in 2010 with a separate team for multiplayer development, and when MP producer Joe Khoury was asked if they would also work on their next project, Thief 4, he did not deny or confirm. Steam users that pre-ordered the game received Team Fortress 2 items for the sniper class (cosmetics based on what Garrett wears and a modified version of the huntsman weapon styled after the bow used in-game) and/or Dota 2 items based on the game.
Although the game was initially expected for seventh-generation consoles, it was switched to eighth-generation consoles during development. This was confirmed when in March 2013, the game was officially unveiled through that month's issue of Game Informer and announced to be released on the PC, PlayStation 4 and "other next-gen consoles". The game is a reboot of the Thief series itself. Based upon initial press release photos Phil Savage of PC Gamer made some comparisons to Dishonored, stating "It all looks a bit Dishonored, which is apt, given that Dishonored looked a bit Thief."
Eidos announced that the veteran voice actor Stephen Russell has been replaced by actor Romano Orzari for the role of the main protagonist in the series, Garrett. In a statement, Eidos explained their decision. "We made the decision to record our actor's voices and their movement at the same time using a full performance capture technique. The actor playing Garrett needed to be able to perform his own stunts. Garrett's a really athletic guy. We could have pasted Stephen's voice on top of the actions and stunts of someone else, but this wouldn't appear natural." However, this decision has upset some fans of the series who initiated an online petition requesting Eidos Montréal to bring back Stephen Russell as lead voice actor.
Thief received "mixed" reviews, according to video game review aggregator Metacritic. Most reviewers praised its stealth gameplay, level design, graphics, and replay value, but criticized its map layout, technical issues, and story.
GameZone's Mike Splechta gave the PlayStation 4 version a 6.5/10, stating "Some might be able to look past Thief's shortcomings and instead only focus on the moments of brilliance. However, I imagine long-time Thief fans hoping for Garrett's grand return might be somewhat disappointed." Giving the reboot a score of 6.8, IGN's Dan Stapleton criticized the decision to replace the voice actor for Garrett, saying that the new actor, Romano Orzari, made the protagonist seem "flat" and "poorly lip-synced"; Stapleton also took issue with the sub-par AI, lack of variety or creativity in Garrett's choice of weapons, the poorly designed and cumbersome layout of The City, and the story, calling it "bland" and "supernatural-driven". However, he praised the ability to change the difficulty of the game so as to make it more challenging and was also positive about Garrett's new sprinting mechanics. The Telegraph's Tim Martin was much more scathing in his review, giving the game 2 stars out of 5 and lambasting the rote manner in which each level plays out, forcing the player to conform to one set path through the maps and very rarely allowing him a sense of freedom and challenge. The review also pointed out that increasing the game's difficulty will do little to heighten any sense of danger or unpredictability; overall, Martin thought to be a half-hearted disaster.
Eurogamer Italy gave it a score of 9/10, saying: "one of the best action-stealth titles in years and the first serious contender for the '2014 Game of the Year' contest". Digital Spy gave it a glowing review, stating: "While the game does have its faults - particularly falling apart when Garrett is spotted - Thief excels in the shadows as a pure stealth title, becoming increasingly enjoyable as your skills improve."
At an OXM official press event a week before the game's release, Eidos Montréal's Nick Cantin hinted a Thief sequel could be possible, depending upon its reception: "Nothing's announced yet but we're very keen to see how people respond to the game [...] We've built a really big universe around the first game, and there's a lot of layers to it – the world is really deep [...] so there's a lot of possibilities to jump on."
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