Square Enix’s Thief franchise (formerly owned by Eidos) was once the name in stealth action. Since then the brand has somewhat fallen off the face of the earth – until recently, when a new installment was announced.
Today I got the opportunity to go hands on with Square Enix’s upcoming Thief game, where you once again step into the shows of Garrett, the master thief, and plunder the wares of an unsuspecting city.
What was most immediately noticeable in my 30-minute demo was the general aura of the game. The contrast between lights and darks were stark, but never distracting. The game looks damn good and the immersive surroundings can take a tremendous amount of that credit. Unfortunately there was no real tutorial system in terms of gameplay, so as I was thrust into a city with four separate objectives, it took me a few minutes to get my bearings instead of just enjoying the view.
It was simple enough to pick up though: The left trigger was an auto-run (something similar to the of Assassin’s Creed) while the right trigger pulls back on one of Garrett’s arrows. For a demo such as this that was really all of the in depth direction needed.
**This guy looks like he’s really important, but he’s really just too drunk to walk.**
The main issue I had with the demo is the lack of fleshed out options for vertical traversal.
Garrett has the ability to climb up certain walls and vents using a hook – which frankly gives the camera a swift, exhilarating swoop. Though beyond the occasional ladder and chicken wire type grate, there are few options for upward traversal. This stunts some of the gameplay, causing you to dodge guards far more often than seems necessary while trying to figure out a really bizarre spatial puzzle. It’s not the worst thing in the world and it’s far from completely broken – but it breaks up an otherwise fluid gaming experience, turning it into a somewhat frustrating endeavor.
Overall the traversal is a great tool and an even better idea. However, without more options, it seems like the mechanic was kind of shoehorned in. The absence of variety in verticality doesn’t make the game challenging in a satisfying way – which is something I look for in a good title; it honestly just makes satisfying a simple objective somewhat obnoxious. To clarify: Thief is by no means bad, and with a longer, polished and more varied play session this could turn around.
Of course, Thief has not yet been finished, and as is such some bugs were encountered. During my demo I actually ran and climbed without a hitch – but I witnessed my fellow GameSkinny cohort, Steve, get stuck in mid-air in the same spot twice. Leading to the necessity of suicide so he could restart from a checkpoint. Given that this was a demo, such things are forgivable. Yet if something like this ever made it into the full release it could really ruin what is otherwise a pretty good time.
In general the game looks good. The shadows are comfortably dark and the space under lamps are shockingly bright – giving the player an uncomfortable feeling until they crouch and venture back into cover. The surroundings are equally fitting and impressive looking, giving the legitimate aura of being in a Victorian themed area with the objective of stealing priceless works.
**No means no Garrett! No means no!**
When I stood up from the demo I can’t say I was either disappointed or excited. I can confidently say that I am more curious about Thief than I was before. I want to know more about the game, and I wouldn’t mind getting another shot at playing it.
Thief is expected to release on February 25, 2014.
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Does the news on the new Thief make you itch with anticipation to once again step into the nimble boots of Garrett? Or will you hold out for another romp from Big Boss. Sound off in the comments down below and maybe – just maybe – I wont steal that priceless painting you keep delicately hanged on the wall of your Victorian flat!