Preview: The new Thief wants to feel fresh but familiar

July 9, 2013


First announced in 2009, Thief all but disappeared for a few years, leading many to think it had been quietly canceled. Now, moved to a new generation of consoles, Thief proves itself to be in good hands.

What it is: While it was first announced as Thief 4, Square Enix’s Thief is now a reboot of the series, with Eidos Montreal hoping to modernize the series while keeping as close as possible to the spirit of the original. Thief is a stealth action game set in a fantasy medieval period on the verge of a steampunk-style industrial revolution. You’ll play as series protagonist Garrett, stealing and sneaking around in a city simply called ‘The City’.

Why we’re excited: It’s immediately apparent that a lot of work went into making sure that series veterans would feel at home here, as many of Garrett’s tools return, such as the water arrow for putting out torches, the rope arrow for reaching difficult areas and the blunt arrow for creating distractions or knocking out guards.

It also has a few new features, such as a dash and a ‘Focus’ ability. Dashing allows Garrett to quickly move between shadows with less chance of being seen, while Focus allows you to see important clues, things you can steal or even to enhance your combat or lockpicking. While this may sound like it makes the game too easy, it runs off a finite meter that you have to eat poppies to refill. Those looking for a more difficult experience can turn both of them off, as the developers made quite clear during our time with the game.

Of course, what stealth game would be complete without guards and a multitude of paths to choose? Thief might have the best guard AI we’ve seen, as while some guards will quickly give up after being alerted to your presence, some will continue to hunt for you, going from hiding place to hiding place, sure that you are somewhere near. As for level design, the castle that we saw had at least three ways in and out, and we look forward to exploring them all.


What we’re wondering: The staples of the gameplay and mechanics are all in place, but we were purposely kept in the dark in regards to the story and all characters aside from Garrett himself. How compelling will it be? And open level design that allows differing paths and play is very difficult to do. We wonder how well Eidos Montreal will be able to make sure that the rest of the game is as well designed as what we’ve seen so far.

Thief is slated for 2014 on PS4, XB1 and PC.