In a puzzle or stealth game, every guard that you go up against is a challenge in strategy. You ask yourself questions like “how do i get past this guy without getting spotted?”, or “how do i put an arrow through his face…without getting spotted?”. That’s the kind of thing that Thief does well, using nice-looking shadows and scenarios with multiple paths to make you stop and think before you steal. However, everything else, from a clunky and sort of contrived story with flat characters to a frustrating mess of a central map made me sort of wish that nobody even tried connecting the excellent puzzle aspects of the game to anything remotely resembling a story.
As the title implies, the main character, Garrett is a thief who steals pretty much anything that isn’t nailed down to where it’s being displayed. Literally anything; forks, pens, cups — you name it. His indiscriminate kleptomania makes him come off as more of a petty thief rather than a master thief, which is exactly the type of character you want to play as. Additionally, his lack of charm and hollow voice acting and poorly lip-synced dialogue inhibit even the most sympathetic person from viewing him as a lovable Robin Hood rogue rather than some jerk that just steals people’s silver. He also wears a corset, for some reason.
Playing stealth games as true stealth games takes a great degree of patience, waiting for the game’s confluence of circumstances at any given time to make it possible for you to get away from situations without being seen, and not getting caught either taking out targets or making your theft. You can’t really overpower any enemies unlucky enough to detect you, mostly because the melee combat is a repetitive dance of reading an opponent’s obvious attack and then simply countering. It’s very easy against one enemy, but really tough against two or more, especially when a guard has a crossbow. But that’s not a bad thing, because a good stealth game does everything it can to force you to avoid confrontation.
Stealth is where Thief works best; it’s tough but fair and gives you breathing room to avoid detection when keeping within the shadows. The lighting effects are very impressive. The AI isn’t great and occasionally gets stuck on walls, but it’s good enough that guards notice things like open safes and unconscious or dead bodies, and they did react to some of Garrett’s trick arrows designed to lure them around. However, those arrows are very limited as far as where they can be used – especially things like the fire and water and rope arrows that can only be used on very specific environmental areas. If the level designs were more open, the arrows would be much more applicable in more scenarios, and would thus be more useful.
Garrett’s swoop ability, which allows Garrett to move forward 15-feet without being seen is incredibly useful and is what makes Garrett feel like a badass ninja. It’s great for crossing gaps and getting out of tight spots, but is the only highlight of Garrett’s movement; every other feature seems awkward and clumsy. Garrett’s focus power is additionally incredibly useful, and is sometimes a bit of a crutch. It cuts out searching for interactive items in the dark lighting of the game. You can purchase upgrades to the focus power which makes the already easy lockpicking minigame even easier, or give you hints for where any treasure is hidden.
Thief can generally take roughly 15-hours to complete, and is essentially best thought of as a series of challenging scenarios instead of a continuous adventure experience. The game has some strong stealth mechanics and is very challenging, though these good aspects are bogged down by the extremely annoying city-hub map and hit-or-miss missions.
from Douglas MacFaddin’s Video Game and Media Page http://ift.tt/1h6LCyN