By Tom "TomBsTone" Bronneberg on January 14, 2021
Yes, I know this is a relatively old game. I mean, come on; it was first released on the PS3 back in 2014 for crying out loud! Back then, I also bought the game and played it for a bit, but somehow I got stuck early on and after retrying the level a couple of times I was just frustrated and quit. No, I didn't throw my controller across the room and wreck my TV while filming it. I'm not some spoiled, snotty little rich brat who will do anything for views.
During the last few years, I've spent quite a long time roaming the PlayStation store for new games. Since we can't buy all the games the minute they're released, I also like to browse the deals section a lot. And it was here I first noticed Thief again, sitting in a dark corner, minding its own business. The game came at a ridiculously discount like it was all alone and nobody wanted to play it anymore. At first glance I didn't give it much thought but year in year out I saw Thief in the same corner only every time I looked the price seem to drop some more. And this Christmas I really felt sorry for it as it reached an all time low of €1,99. I mean come on, I can't even buy a decent hamburger for that price. So I bought Thief again, now for the PS4, and decided to give it a second chance and maybe write a "pity review". Turns out I played it wrong the first time and Thief doesn't need anyone's pity! It's actually a really cool game that looks especially nice on a Ps4Pro with an Oled TV. Go figure.
Thief is a first person stealth action game that lets you play Garrett, a sleek and stealthy mofo, who really likes shiny objects. Roaming through a fantasy steampunk world resembling a cross between the Late Middle Ages and the Victorian era, with more advanced technologies to discover and utilise. Being a master thief, shadows are your friends and darkness is your strongest ally. Thus you will be spending most of your time going on the prowl at night, trying to hide from henchmen, crowds, guards and other law men. Thief reminds me of the early days of the Assassin's Creed series. I mean this in a good way! You remember those games, before they decided to go the arcade action game path. I mean the first few games, right up until, and including, the Ezio trilogy. Thief focuses on stealth and platforming. There are bonus objectives like not being detected or no fighting or knockouts during a mission. This emphasizes the entire core of the game. You're a thief. So not getting caught while stealing all the shiney stuff should be your main concern anyways, am I right?
The story of this fourth installment in the Thief series is obscure, intriguing and dark. The game comes with a lot of backstory and interesting conversations between various factions and other occupants of the city. The cut scenes are very well made, visually, but do occasionally have the habit of stuttering or even skipping parts, which is a shame but not a real problem. I'm really impressed how well the visuals aged and look on a PS4 pro. Maybe it's the fact most of the scenes are very dark anyway, but on the right screen, like my Panasonic Oled TV, this game is amazing. The setting is perfectly done, with a seemingly open city, that actually isn't open world at all, but gives you that impression anyhow. It's a clever combination of level design and open world exploring. As you traverse the dark alleys of the city you will be able to open up a lot of shortcuts, doors and windows. But some regions are still closed and need to be unlocked by either story or side quest progressions. Also, many of these side quests will let you re-explore other parts of the before mentioned areas as new buildings become accessible.
The main missions and some of the bigger side quests will give you access to specific parts of the city and are designed as stand-alone levels, complete with their own map and area, normally not accessible during free roaming. After clearing one of these missions, you will also receive a rundown of your performance. Thief divides its level bonuses based on your play style. Thief or Brawler or something in between. So you can replay the same levels to achieve the desired result. This adds another layer of depth to Thief as a game. It might be really challenging to achieve a Master of Shadows reward for remaining completely undetected during an entire level. But is can also be quite relaxing. Especially on the higher difficulty settings where enemies track your movement and the sounds you produce you really need to take your time, analyze your surroundings, find a safe way from point A to point B, and plot a course to your goal accordingly. This in high contrast to most other games where you can just use a giant axe and run through the enemy horde while shouting "hold my mead" to your battle buddies.
The controls feel balanced and get the job done. And although I do miss a Jump function, the old "hold L2 to parkour your way across the level" trick still works fine for this particular style of game. Equipped with a small selection of nifty gadgets, like a bow with different types of arrows for all your daily thieving needs, some healing wares and a bottle to throw and distract enemies with, you will have to make your way across town. And although this may not sound like a whole lot of equipment, it's exactly enough to play the game and explore every facet of the different playstyles. Plus, it never runs the risk of becoming a chore to dig through an infinite collections of weapons and gear you don't even remember obtaining in the first place like, again, the newer Assassin's Creed games. I like this simplicity, it gives more room for the player to explore different options in the levels and test out different routes while memorizing their surroundings. Of course there are plenty of upgrades to unlock by visiting your local back-alley merchant. It is also therein that lies a lot of freedom, since your playstyle also defines what upgrades you will want to choose first.
So if you are like me, and whenever you startup another round of Skyrim you mostly end up a Stealthy Thieving Sneaky Bastard, Thief is the game for you. Because it saves you the hassle of being over-encumbered, every time you steal something its instantly reverted to its worth in coin, and you don't have upgrade stuff you don't need in the end like a two-handed or armor skill tree. Especially at its current selling price, Thief must surely be a welcome addition to every game collection.