Thief might not be Dishonored, but it doesn’t have to be.
I have read some critical reviews of Thief and more often than not, most reviewers seem to be disappointed that Thief is not Dishonored. Well, no freaking dur. Any gamer who has been around for awhile knows that Thief actually came first and Dishonored is actually more of an homage to the older games than the other way around. Yes, there are similarities, but I’m going to start my review by stating what should be the obvious:
Thief is not Dishonored.
This is important because that particular detail seems to be all some people can think about. So let’s look at Thief in its own right, shall we?
The Story of Thief
Thief takes place in a London-ish place simply called “The City.” It feels sort of like the late 19th century, but it also has a medieval feel to it. There are also small elements that could even classify the setting as steampunk, although they aren’t overwhelming. You can take on the character of Garrett , who is, obviously, a thief. Garrett is not your typical thief with a heart of gold, though. He’s just what I’ve said he is: he steals things to make a living. Or he steals things for other people and gets paid for it. In this particular installment of the game, Garrett is working a job with his partner Erin. The two witness a magic summoning ceremony that goes wrong and all hell breaks loose. Garrett wakes up a year later with no memory of what’s happened since. And Erin is gone, presumed dead.
This story is actually what sets Thief apart. Garrott knows what he is and has no problem with it. Even when he’s trying to save The City, he’s really trying to get paid for the next job. Meanwhile, he’s robbing people blind and using the coin he acquires to buy more equipment. This is a moral ambiguous story, although Garrott sort of has to do the right thing in the end. The story feels well thought out and fits both the environment and character you play in-game. It’s original and the inclusion of magic makes it feel like something we haven’t seen in a stealth game before.
The idea of Thief is to be sneaky and not get caught by the guards of The City. So you’ll spend most of your time hunched down, darting from shadow to shadow (and there is a control that allows you to do that) and hiding behind boxes and walls. This doesn’t mean you can’t interact with the guards, though, but if you get caught, expect to get pummeled to death. Fortunately, pickpocketing is easy, as is taking down a guard with a blow before you’ve been seen. Just don’t let him call out first or his friends will come after you.
With this being a stealth title, expect to pick some locks, too. Lockpicking is actually a lot of fun and when you get the hang of it (using both the vibration on the controller and the visual cues), you can pick a lock in seconds flat. But don’t mess up because if you pick a lock incorrectly, someone might hear you and become suspicious. Some locks are harder than others, but none can’t be picked.
Garrett also has something called focus. This reminds me of eagle vision in Assassins Creed: it allows you to see everything in your environment that you can interact with and/or use. It comes in very handy when you need to find an escape route or have a desire to go around a group of guards because finding some things in the environment (like ropes you can climb) are often difficult to see.
You can increase your focus with focus points, either earned or bought. This makes your focus last longer (it is limited and requires a flower to be re-filled) or make it show more for you in your environment. Visit vendors throughout The City to upgrade your weapon and/or buy new items that will help you get more health, be more stealthy, etc.
Unfortunately, Thief has a few issues that make it a bit buggy. To quote my cousin, it could use a patch. There are times when you’re trying to jump down from a ledge and you just can’t. This is especially troublesome if there’s someone right behind you coming after you. Usually pressing every button in succession eventually results in a jump, but it’s annoying and happens one too many times while playing. Sometimes other buttons don’t necessarily work the way they’re supposed to, and that does result in some frustration.
I didn’t time my gameplay with Thief, but it took me a few weeks to get through it, playing 2-3 hours per day. It’s longer than a lot of games I’ve played recently (BioShock Infinite, I’m looking at you). There is also some replay value as you can always go back and find items you missed or aim for the perfect score (each chapter has achievements you can get for things like not being seen, finding all items to steal, etc.).
Although Thief is not an open-world game, there is still plenty of room for wandering around, which I often do when playing (this is why it takes me forever to play a game – I explore every nook and cranny). There are several individuals throughout The City that will hire Garrett to take on some side quests, which involve, obviously, stealing items. These side quests are fun and I recommend doing those, as well as playing the main story. My only complaint is that I would like to see more of these in the game (I only found about 5 or 6).
Although I played Thief on the PS4, I wasn’t blown away by the quality of the graphics. This is definitely a previous-gen game, but when considering that, it still looks pretty good. Cutscenes are pretty cool and some environments are very well-rendered, particularly an asylum that you get to explore about halfway through the game. Lighting in and around The City is set to be grim, in keeping with the game’s mood.
The voice acting of Thief is really good. Until I looked it up, I thought Erin was done by the same voice actress that did Elizabeth in BioShock Infinite, but it was actually Vanessa Matsui. Garrett was voiced by Romano Orzari – if that name sounds familiar, you’ll know him as the voice of Giovanni Auditore Firenze in the previously mentioned Assassins Creed. The other voice actors were also good and lent credence to the game’s setting.
Again, I have to repeat myself: Thief is not Dishonored. If you can remember that while playing the game, you’ll probably enjoy it, especially if – like me – you love stealth. It’s all about being sneaky, stealing things and not getting caught. What’s not to like? If anyone tells you differently, they’re probably just still too hung up on Dishonored. Even in spite of some of the bugs, Thief is a game worth playing.