I figure my neglected blog could use some sort of new content, so why not post my impressions of the Thief reboot? I got this as part of the second Humble Square Enix Bundle that was available not too ago and skulked my way through it over the course of a week. I won’t go into much detail because this post is just supposed to be a brief overview of the impression the game left me with rather than a proper review, and also because nothing about it was memorable enough for me to go into much detail a couple of weeks after the fact.
Before I get to what I didn’t like, I suppose I should get to what I thought was alright about this reboot. Visually speaking, it sports a solid look—from the environments to the characters, lighting, shadows, and art style. That’s not to say that it holds up in every regard visually; a lot of people don’t like Garrett’s redesign with a common complaint being his black eye liner making him look “emo,” but it’s not that hard to overlook if you don’t get caught up on it and you could even come to view it as something that makes sense given his chosen profession. The change of voice actor also didn’t really bother me, which is another hangup some people have when comparing it to its predecessors—other voices are either good or mediocre.
Of course, the audiovisual side of things is less important than the gameplay, and in that regard I found Thief to be underwhelming but (mostly) competent–from the mission design, to the sneaking mechanics, pacing, level design, etc. Unfortunately, a lot of what’s good about the game gets bogged down by various annoyances which include:
— Lots of repetitive forced animations. Grabbing loot, opening drawers and cabinets (many of which are empty and just waste your time), opening windows, enemy takedowns, etc. There’s also a long animation of Garrett moving a wooden beam out of his way that they reuse way too many times—sometimes they want you to mash X to move it and sometimes they don’t, although unlike the windows (more on those below) these are always used to section off map areas within a map or serve as a transition to a new area.
— There’s no indication as to whether or not a window leads to a lootable room within the map you’re in, or if it’s a transition to another area until after you’ve already initiated the animation; if you get the prompt to tap X it’s a lootable room, if you don’t it’s a map transition.
— I don’t believe the glow on rooms that strictly serve as loot locations goes away after you’ve cleared them and left, so you might end up going back into an empty room at some point if you don’t remember all of the places you’ve been.
— Somewhat clunky, limited movement. The context sensitive run/jump/mantle function screws up sometimes. There are areas you should be able to get to but can’t because the rope arrows only work at specific points. I understand the need to keep you caged to some extent, but there were times where I felt my options where limited when they shouldn’t have been.
— Cutscene direction and dialog was a bit stilted, the story felt like it wasn’t fully realized and the ending was kind of a mess. The only thing notable about the “Thief-taker General” is his massive bald spot and his penchant for being a douche, other than that he was just a one-dimensional filler character that never amounted to much and got too much screen time.
— Awful audio mixing; sounds cut off abruptly instead of fading in and out and there are inconsistencies in how loud some sounds are compared to others.
—I understand it’s a reboot and they want to do their own thing, but I wish they had kept the Order of the Hammer in as a prominent backstory element. They only ever really indirectly refer to the Hammerites when they reference “The Old Gods” and with the brief appearance of the hammer symbolism in a specific area later in the game, outside of that it’s pretty much been taken out of the lore.
— Lastly, and perhaps most egregiously; the guards don’t indiscriminately call people taffers.
I don’t have much attachment to the original games but this one still managed to disappoint me in various ways; however, with all that being said I didn’t necessarily dislike it, it just has some glaring faults and questionable design decisions which left me feeling like it was largely wasted potential—unfinished and average in nearly every way.