I will have to be honest and say that I am not really a fan of stealth games. Well, after spending time with Thief, I should say that I wasn’t a fan of stealth games. The upcoming Eidos title, published by Square Enix, has made me reconsider my stance – thanks largely in part to the game’s intuitive approach to pure stealth-based gameplay.
The Thief demo looked tremendous. Character models were life-like and the team at Eidos has put lighting to use in a great way. Seeing the game’s unfinished build still looking this impressive is a great indicator of how great games are going to look for years to come.
In the demo, Thief’s main character, Garret, is tasked with stealing a valuable heirloom known as the Heart of the Lion. On Garret’s mission to steal the heirloom, a great number of mechanics were shown off, making Garret’s navigation through the demo level feel like he truly is a master thief. Of special note is Garret’s sweeping mechanic, which allows him to quickly jump from one shadowy area to another in order to stay out of sight. The Focus ability is also especially interesting; it allows Garret to harness enhanced vision to highlight both targets and valuables in a level, but must be constantly refilled for consistent use.
Much of Garret’s navigation through the level had him back to his old tricks. Thief uses a weapon wheel for Garret’s various tools of the trade, but the bow seems to be his mainstay, as well as various arrow types to interact with the environment. The rope arrow is one of the special arrows detailed, allowing Garret to fire an arrow and use it gain access to high areas.
As is to be expected from a Thief game, the level design is exceptional, featuring multiple pathways to the objective, allowing for players to forge their own route to the loot. The level featured in the demo captured the atmosphere that other entries in the Thief series are known for, and when combined with Garret’s smooth animations, made for an immersive experience.
Surfaces in Thief all act differently and create different noise levels. Garret is naturally quiet but treading through water for example, will cause a lot more noise. Enemies also react according to the environment in Thief. In one example, firing an arrow through the level caused every nearby enemy to go on alert. Guards began to patrol the area and dogs barked viciously as they looked for the source of the arrow.
Aside from the usual stealth required to get to Garret’s goal, he will also spend considerable time solving puzzles to advance through the level. In one instance, Garret activated a switch at a waterfall, causing it to stop flowing and granting him access to areas the water previously didn’t allow for. Garret can also use his hands to feel various areas for hidden locations. In the demo, investigating a painting led to Garret finding a hidden room, which contained the heirloom he was looking for.
Thief is hands down one of the most remarkable stealth games I have ever seen. Eidos has done a great job of blending numerous gameplay elements together, all while sticking to the sneaky pedigree of the series.
Thief is set to release in 2014 for the PC, Xbox One, and PS4.
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