Published on January 29th, 2014 | by IceCube
GLiTCH plays Thief
GLiTCH here with another hands-on preview. I was lucky enough to be invited to the Namco Bandai office and get a very early go at the near-finished build of upcoming game, Thief.
This game is a reboot of the classic Thief and Thief 2 games for the PC, but with the series reboot coming to console as well, I got to play from the beginning on a PlayStation 4.
For most part, this game remains true to its predecessors. It’s a first-person, stealth-based action game, where the aim is to steal as many valuables as possible within sandbox areas without getting caught by town guards. Fortunately there’s much more to this game than just being a nuisance to civilization: We’re given an interesting plot that presents some motivation for your main character, Garrett, to take what he doesn’t own. But those details I’ll leave for you to discover on your own.
The first thing I was introduced to was an extensive Options system from the main menu screen. If you’re willing to up the challenge and turn-off some of the game’s more advantageous features, you will get a bonus to your online leaderboard rankings – not to mention an extra sense of personal achievement.
One of these features is Focus mode, a limited-use action that works a little like infrared vision, highlighting key items in the area, like enemies, doors, ladders, jewels and even weak points on enemies. Clearly this makes the game much easier, but if you turn it off, not only will you increase the challenge but you’ll also be rewarded for it. There’s an eye-popping number of gameplay tweaks like this you can adjust before you even start, like disabling the targeting reticle or the ability to kill. The tougher the challenge the more points you’ll earn for it.
Once in the game, it’s impossible not to notice the familiar style and feel to Dishonored, another stealth-based FPS. If I had to summarize a very early comparison between the two, I’d say that Thief lacks the charm of Dishonored’s world, but offers much better stealth mechanics. Here’s a few reasons how:
Thief brings Garrett’s nimble fingers into the foreground of the screen and plays a big part of the immersion from first-person perspective. You’ll see his hands delicately trim the edge of a canvas to take a painting, open every drawer on a cabinet, pick locks, and grab the face the wall when peering around a corner. Light and darkness make a clear difference to your visibility, so it’s worth sticking to the shadows. Sound attracts the attention of enemies more effectively, whether you’re running, sneaking, throwing a glass bottle or walking on thin floorboards, the difference is more distinct. The areas feel less open and more confined in Thief, but there’s more places to get vertical and drop on someone’s head to knock them out with a quick, cool cutscene.
Stealing is done a number of ways, whether it’s a sneaky pick-pocket from a money pouch, or breaking into a house. Lock-picking is a respectable time-eating process that is (thankfully) less-fiddly than most games, with some locks being tougher to bust open. The process is simply a matter of twirling the analogue stick to the find the weak point and tapping the button.
Garrett’s tricks extend further than just picks. After all, the Mechanical Bow is his prime tool in the game, but serves more as an aid to get by unnoticed than a weapon of death. It can be armed with a variety of unique arrow types, and a few of them are: The Blunt Arrow, used for making noise and attracting attention, the typical Tapered Arrow to bring some sharp pain, the Fire Arrow, for setting things alight, and the Water Arrow, for washing out the burning light for more darkness. There’s even more types of arrows than mentioned here and they all offer an extended variety of ways to advance through an area.
You’re also armed with a blackjack – a small club-like weapon used for quickly whacking guards in the back of the head and leave them counting sheep. The Climbing Claw lets you scale walls and gain access to higher ground.
Your items of interest are pieces of jewellery, coins, expensive crockery and paintings, and these are littered all around the area but usually behind locked doors. Garrett doesn’t have a bag, so where he stashes all these valuables is anyone’s guess! But the value of them is immediately converted to coin, and may be exchanged for goods and upgrades from the rare, shady-looking characters waiting around the place.
We played a few hours of the game from the beginning and were a little underwhelmed by the lack of variety and distinction between the sandbox-style areas. Cobblestone roads and vintage terrace houses dominate your space, with some sewer sneaking and rooftop bounding mixed in. It’s too early to tell, but we’re hoping that the as the game progresses the world will open up more and present us with some changes to the environment.
Overall I’ve come out of this game with mixed feelings about Thief. There’s definitely a lot of good things going for it and I’m confident the gameplay mechanics are nailed, but the pacing could be a concern if the direction doesn’t maintain some focus. We’re looking forward to getting a final opinion when we see more in time for the review near the release date.
For everything on Thief, be sure to sneak into gamebug.com.au!