Thief offers a refreshing change to what seems like an endless parade of similar action games. You know the formula, fight numerous enemies (which usually all look, act and sound alike) while moving through each level of the game. Thief doesn’t do this, in fact the game mechanics almost force you to avoid combat. In my hours of game time I haven’t fought a single guard, a feat I have only managed to accomplish in one other game series, Metal Gear Solid.
The beauty of Thief lies in it’s stealth game which, when pulled off right, leaves you feeling very satisfied. It does have it’s problems though. Contrary to reviews I’ve read and heard, which stated the AI was smart and would find you if you alerted them, I was able to use the shadows to go invisible. A guard would stand mere feet from me and I would just sit there in a corner, unseen. It almost feels too easy to go through this game unseen, which is presumably why the developers added birds (which alert guards if you move too quickly) and dogs (that growl and bark if they see you) into the game.
As for the thievery aspect of the game, I was at times both excited and bored by it. The larger items you can steal are really cool, such as plaques, rings and paintings, however in order to acquire more money I found myself stealing everything that wasn’t nailed down. These small items such as forks, ink pots and goblets are littered across the games various levels and at the end of each chapter you are rated on a percentage based on how much of the available loot you were able to take. Stealing the minor stuff got really boring, really quickly and I didn’t feel like a “Master Thief” when I was stealing an old woman’s pen from her desk drawer. The gold you get from stealing these minor items can be used towards upgrading your skills, such as lockpicking, or buying items such as arrows or wrenches which aid you as you progress through the game. I found only some of the items useful and certain upgradable skills, I’m talking mainly lockpicking here, are almost pointless to invest in as the lockpicking mini game isn’t a challenge to being with. I didn’t upgrade my health either as I was never in combat.
The story in Thief isn’t the best, in fact there were many moments (emphasis on “many”) where I had no idea what was going on. The characters aren’t very interesting and I didn’t feel a connection to any of them, not even Garrett (the main protagnist). The environments however are very cool and atmospheric and the level design is very well done. Whether it be “The City” itself or various landmark places dotted around, I enjoyed exploring for the most part. I say “for the most part” because Thief does have a problem and that is loading screens. I was constantly being interupted while exploring with “loading”. I’m not a game developer but when you can have sprawling cities and rural areas like we have in Grand Theft Auto V then I see no reason why any game needs loading screens anymore. It is for this reason that I felt lost in The City and didn’t really feel like one area really continued onto the next.In terms of graphics the PS4 version is, as expected, very solid and from what I’ve seen close to the PC version. I did, however, experience drops in frame rate particularly during cut scenes which was disappointing to say the least. Also, with the PS4 version the lights on the controller would change depending on my visability. If I was in the shadows the light on the dual shock 4 would be blue. If I stepped into the light it would change to bright white. While this feature isn’t anything in particular to write home about, I did think it was a nice touch.
To summarise this quick review, Thief doesn’t really deliver on its promise for me. I was left a little disappointed and sad because this game could have been better. I don’t think it will make any Top Ten Games of 2014 list, that said neither will it make any worst game list. It’s a very middle of the road title that should maybe be bought if you’re looking for a game to play to kill some time inbetween big releases.