Thief, Opinion

Sneaking in the shadows

First of all, the rebooted Thief promised me hours of grinding. In the unclear starting room, even with the candles turned off, silver goblets and gold coins sparkled mischievously, and they couldn’t be cleaned with the vacuum cleaner named “Take All”. Plus, the game tapped me on the shoulder, saying, “Hey, you haven’t even checked the closets yet…”

It seems like you can just ignore all of this, but first of all, the game is called “Thief”, and secondly, I still don’t know how much gold I need and what I’ll have to spend it on! What if the desired upgrades cost a lot of money? On the other hand, though, everything could turn out exactly the opposite, and all the necessary super arrows will be given to me in some plot scene, while only junk will be put up for sale?

In good games, they either immediately reveal the local laws of economics or make enrichment itself a fun activity. A good example of the second approach is the latest “Assassin’s Creed” about pirates. There, I sank ships for doubloons, while here, I have to run through the same room from one nightstand to another ten thousand times.

In general, the citizens of Thief live well for decaying pseudo-Victorian pseudo-England. Silver coasters lie in the garbage on the streets, golden candlesticks are dumped in the mines at the broken factory where everything that can be broken is broken, and every half-dead guard is solidly about money.

Maybe it will get better later, but for now, I have to make a bitter strategic decision and at least temporarily play the game “Thief” without stealing.

Hey, wait, why didn’t I just start something else right away? It would be one thing if I were playing on a PlayStation 4, which is currently more fun to shoot with something big-caliber than to use as intended, but Steam is bursting with various entertainments!

Oh well, let’s hope it gets more fun from here.

Navigating the treacherous city

I’ll be honest – I haven’t played the original Thief. I just didn’t have time for it. So, in my case, there wasn’t much nostalgia involved: I didn’t want a revival of the Great Series, I just wanted a good game.

And right in the prologue, disaster struck. I couldn’t seem to keep up with the rhythm set by the developers. I wanted to fly out of the starting room, but instead, I found myself stuck in a mess. I finally climbed onto the roof, wanting to take a deep breath of the local air and look around – but no, I had to chase after some lady in leather. I watched a cutscene, ended up in some garden. I wanted to quickly sneak past the starting, predictably deaf and blind guards – but no, here comes a tutorial on how to move stealthily and slo-o-o-wly. Can we just finish with the tutorial, please? Oh no, you want something else? Here’s another mandatory plot-driven cutscene on the engine.

What a mess.

Side note: lockpicking in Thief is dumber than in Skyrim.

After the prologue, the grind through rooms continued and became even more extensive. At the same time, the game managed to annoy me with moments of “Press E to”. Press E to move a beam. Press E ten times in a row to open a window. Press E to avenge Batman’s parents. Press E to finish the game. It’s just an overdose of these “Press E” moments, without them, you can’t even move three meters.

Secrets of the underworld

The first mission’s statistics screen showed that I’m a noob. I stun guards a lot, but steal very little. But I still don’t know what to spend money on! Clicking on every corner at a turtle’s pace is boring and useless for now, why do I need it? I’ve been playing this damn game for an hour and still can’t figure it out.

Finally, I stumbled upon the first “shop”. Well, more accurately, Thief pointed me to it while doing the first optional (meaning mandatory) task. And yes, the set turned out to be standard – a sturdier suit, a more accurate bow, and consumables.

Funny thing. Many pieces of the game’s plot are presented in the developers’ favorite manner – through conversations of random bystanders. This prologue seemed uninspired to your humble servant, so there was no need to stop for dramatic nonsense and eavesdrop on fleeting conversations. If only it were that simple.

I’m walking down the street, overhearing a conversation about some dark fantasy plague. I ignore it and keep going. But I still hear what the NPCs are saying. I turn the corner, reach a dead end, climb over a wall. Are they still yelling as if I can easily understand their speech? I turn on some early Offspring, and I still hear those bastards. Damn it, get out of the airwaves already!

I wonder, if I turn off the sound in the settings, will they automatically turn on subtitles for me?

Second mission. I start on the roof, and I want to continue there, but I’m not allowed to climb one meter higher because it’s the zone boundary, and I should go down to the ground, otherwise the guards won’t stand a chance. Well, at least I can climb from the bottom of the canal to various ledges, even if it’s only three meters, because there’s a path and I can press E. I want to climb onto a box, but the game won’t let me again.

Screw you, Thief. I’ve been trying to get some enjoyment out of you for three damn hours, and you won’t even let me climb onto a stupid box. The further I go, the more the local mechanics grind my gears. I’ll rely on the instruments from now on. In my mind, I’ll go where the juiciest scripts are hanging.

A world of intrigue

The tactic worked, I must say, wonderfully. I poked here, poked there, and eventually arrived somewhere. It’s also fun to escape from security using this method. So, you got caught because of another glitch with positioning and now you’re trying to escape somewhere. Three serious gentlemen are after you. You look around and see “Press E to unscrew the bolts of the ventilation hatch!” You start unscrewing, and the gentlemen tactfully wait for the script to pass. The script finishes, you climb into the ventilation, where they can’t reach you anymore. Beautiful!

The problem is, it’s not interesting to play like this. The thefts are monotonous, the chases are farcical, the plot is also farcical, and the parkour is handicapped. There are water arrows, but they’re not very useful…

All questions about local hideouts are finally resolved. Maybe on the ultra-hardcore difficulty mode, you really have to move very stealthily, but in my moderately difficult noob kingdom, in most locations, you can march like a T-1000. Half of the encounters, even enemies, are busy telling their stories and will gladly ignore the nearest rustling to deliver their monologue, and then, with a sense of duty fulfilled, they will move away from their improvised scene near the passage to the next room.

Mastering the art of thievery

Playing Thief the way you want is fraught with outbursts of rage, playing Thief the way the developers intended is boring. Alas.

Thief (2014)
PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Square Enix
Eidos Montreal, Nixxes Software BV
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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