Out of the Shadows: Hands-on with Thief
Mentioning Thief will catch my attention almost instantaneously. Telling me I can have four hours hands-on time makes me squeal like a little girl. With that out of my system, I cleared my schedule, sat down and got critical digging deeply into this upcoming stealth epic.
Breaking down stealth barriers
Up until recently stealth has been quite a niche genre, at its core the gameplay style fights what gamers have been to taught to do. The idea of making a game where you have to avoid combat turns off most of your Call of Duty and Battlefield gamers almost immediately. Thief requires gamers to use patience and slowly plan out their level well before doing anything.
But what can you do to make this appeal to your average gamer? A good start is to focus on a strong control scheme. Using what they learned from Deus Ex: Human Revolution the team on this game have really worked hard to make something quite special, and this is definitely one of the best first person control schemes I have ever put my hands on. Garret has a quick dash to help to move from cover to cover, his take-downs are lethal and natural to preform, and his all of his climbing and movement is realistic and smooth. The skills Garret use are all simple to activate, well mapped to the controller and vary to allow different play styles. The system teaches you very early on that slow is good, however gamers can choose to approach a situation however they want, using either aggression, ghost-like stealth or a mixture of both. Players can still dash and react quickly but with a little patience players will find themselves slinking through the shadows like a ninja and loving it.
Getting into the spirit
Playing this game, you really feel at one with Garret’s character, his movements are slow and measured and yet strangely complex. Thief allows you to visually see you characters whole body and uses his hand to add an amazing sense of immersion. Moving through cloth Garret will brush it aside, when crouching behind cover he will lean his hands on the wall, every aspect of his movement makes you part of his perspective. His internal monologue is raspy and hoarse, offering you a comforting friend as you sneak through the decrepit buildings, fancy mansions and other fascinating locations. There are also little offerings like the light gem. This detection meter changes the colour of the PS4 controller’s light from blue to bright white, meaning the room will literally light up if you are playing in the dark (which is really the only way to play a game like this) warning you that you are dangerously close to being seen.
Need more? Well, Tomb Raider’s story writer, Rhianna Pratchett is on board for this game and just like her story for Lara Croft, Garret’s new journey feel like a reboot, this is not to say fans are going to feel cheapened by the experience, just that the story is more focused on his future than his past, there are brief mentions things here and there, but like a comic book character, his story now speaks louder than actions of his past. This tale will lead you through the experience, longing for more like a good TV series and have you safe and hidden one second and then scrambling for your life the next, all with decent dialog and interesting plot twists to boot.
Not just for fans
There are only a few games a year that I am dying to preview. However, Thief was one of the first games in a while that I literally couldn’t wait to play, after a solid few hours with it I was struggling to put it down and that rarely happens any more. Not only is intense, immersive and well paced. The interface leaves you genuinely feeling like a stealth master, even if it’s not your strong suit. The story is interesting and captivating, the graphics are stunning and there is plenty of replay ability for those that are looking for a decent challenge. What more could you possibly need? Thief is more than just another stealth title, it is the start of an new sub genre, a reactive new action stealth style. Definitely worth a look no matter your game tastes.
So until it comes out, check this out. Just a few short weeks to go.