Our Nation’s Thief Review

Publisher: Square Enix

Developer: Eidos Montreal

Platform: PS4

Release Date: February 25, 2014

1Earlier this year, a new RPG was released titled Thief, which is the fourth installment in the Thief series.

Where It All Began

The first game, Thief: The Dark Project, was released in 1998 for PC only and as the game gained popularity, so did the fan base. Two years later, Thief II: The Metal Age came out, and Thief: Deadly Shadows followed suit.

The concept for the newest Thief is that players are tasked to steal from the rich while avoiding detection. The player is intended to use minimal fighting and rely heavily on their stealth abilities. Garret has an advantage over his opponents due to his “Focus” where it enhances his vision, slows down time, and can be used to perform debilitating attacks.

Because the game is mainly focused on avoiding attacks, there will rarely be instances in where the player might encounter a fight. If those instances ever do show up, Garret is equipped with a baton, compound bow, and grappling hook to aid him in his missions.

The Thief Within Us All

The first Thief  described Garret as a young boy living in the streets of The City, inspired by a Victorian, gothic world. He starts his stealing career by trying to pickpocket a strange man in an alley and was caught in the act. The man he was trying to steal from is called a Keeper, an expert observer dedicated to preserve the balance of the world. He offers to take Garret under his wing to teach him the ways of the Keepers, but instead, Garret ventures out on his own.

After he leaves the safety of the Keepers, his adventure begins by Garret accepting different missions to steal valuable objects in exchange for gold.  At the beginning of Thief 4, the former apprentice of Garret, Erin, is introduced and both end up accepting a mission together.

Located at Baron Northcrest Manor, Garret is knocked unconscious for about a year. Fast forward and he wakes up from the coma to find out that the Baron has locked down the city due to an unknown plague called “The Gloom”.

The player is then introduced to a slew of characters that Garret will work for. He finds himself infiltrating a brothel called the “House of Blossoms” to steal an ancient book. After realizing that his apprentice has been kidnapped and is brainwashed, Garret makes it his mission to find out where Erin is and if she is still alive. The narrative encompasses the conflict between The Baron and a modern day Robin Hood, which is not only clichéd, but told in a mundane way.

However, the plot was a huge disappointment considering how similar it is to most RGPs that I have played.

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The Man Behind the Abilities

Much like Dishonored and Assassin’s Creed, the game is a single player RPG from a first person perspective. However, there are a few differences, which in my opinion, either beckons a player into the game or not. The minimal to no fighting drew me off as a gamer. Eidos Montreal included such great weapons into the game such as the grappling hook and compound bow, but with its creative design and expectation for it to be utilized; it fell short and became more of an accessory rather than a weapon.

A redeeming factor for Thief is Garret’s ability to remain undetectable. The developers did a remarkable job incorporating lighting and shadows into the game that you can become a stealthy assassin if need be or quietly slip by a guard without notice. In addition to the game’s stealth, another plus is Garret’s ninja/assassin run or the “swoop ability”. When the swoop ability is activated, Garret is able to pass by guards with the sense of invisibility. It is extremely helpful when you are trying to cross gaps without being seen or to backpedal out of danger.

With every positive note that this game has, there is a negative that follows suit. Although the character is able to avoid guards, Garrett becomes an almost clumsy and awkward sort of guy. He is unable to free run as most RPGs allow. If the developers did not specifically indicate that you are able to go off this particular edge or climb this wall, you would need to almost force the character to do what you want or are simply out of luck.

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The Verdict

The concept of stealing is fun, but an entire game based on it doesn’t seem to spark any excitement. There might be some moments as to where combat was necessary, but with just that, it is arduous to continue the quest. The City is created to form a maze-like jungle full of darkness where it is difficult to know where you are going. The side map is useless considering that it takes about 20-30 seconds to load on the PS4, which does not contribute to the sense of fluidity in the game.

The graphics are rich and the architectural point of it is breathtaking. Garret looks and feel like a deadly assassin, but it takes more than great art to rocket a game into success.  In retrospect, Thief is not a terrible game considering that it is the fourth installment of the series, but maybe with a stronger, and different story, along with some action involved, this game could have potential.  I feel like it could be so much more than what it is now.  Nonetheless, the missions were quite exciting but exciting can only take the game so far.

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