What’s Killing My Social Life This Week – Thief


Have you ever wanted to play as Batman? Does his macho gritty voice fill you with unrestrained enthusiasm? Do you like dull, one-dimensional characters designed to appeal to the largest of demographics possible? Well then dust off your limited edition Dark Knight cape and brood off the top of high places during thunderstorms.

Thief is a first-person stealth game published by Square Enix and by “published” I do of course mean thoughtlessly spewed out with as little care as possible. In it you play as eighteenth-century Batman, though in this instance he’s a greedy but moral Master Thief. You start off running across the rooftops with your fancy sidekick Batgirl; a reckless thiefsassin lady who has as many daddy issues with Garrett as she does personality disorders. It’s ok though, because Garrett’s got as many daughter issues as he does personality disorders, so it all balances out in the end -I suppose that the stereotypical, bad writing came back full circle- . You sprint and jump and parkour your way towards the next objective marker, Garrett whines about Erin being too reckless, Erin whines about Garrett being too much of a jerk, he steals something off her, daddy issues intensify and then she dies/is infused with the awesome power of making Garrett hallucinate about mushrooms when it’s least convenient(spoiler alert).

The story is boring, clichéd and unimaginative, to the point where I’m not sure it’s even worth discussing. For instance, I could talk about how Garrett uses Erin’s claw despite pointing out its inefficiency as a climbing tool two cutscenes back. I could also mention that he should have just taught Erin how to use the claw properly, rather than sneakily stealing it while her back was turned. I mean, the former ends with her leading a more successful and less murderous thieving career, while in the latter she’s betrayed by her most trusted friend/parental figure and hovers over a book a whole bunch. Honestly though, the level of unironic gritty stereotypes on display is laughable. In fact the most notable instance of cliché singularity is when Garrett (here voiced by Christian Bale) goes to “clear his head” in his own personalized batcave “the clocktower” adorned with a pre-existing flock of bats birds for your brooding convenience.
Anyway, the gameplay is… uuuugh. Look, it’s not exactly bad, there’s some variety involved; you can get several different kinds of arrows in your utility quiver. Sure, most of them are useless, but you can get them nonetheless. You can also buy a few thieving tools, to help with all your everyday snatching needs. And yes, they’re all pretty much a “press button and wait for the animation to be over” sort of dealio, but who wants actual gameplay in their game? That would be like asking for sound in a radio show. A very bad radio show, in which the presenter always speaks in tones so dark and whispering that you can barely hear a thing.

Speaking of which (pun intended) the sound engineering is horrendous, to the point where I had to turn on subtitles not only for the in-game cutscenes, but also for the guards themselves. Because a dialogue prompt became the only way I could tell if they were in my general vicinity, or several walls, ledges and map levels away from where my general vicinity used to be. And on the subject of things that don’t work well in Thief, the lock picking sucks. It’s incredible how one can design a lock pin so unresponsive, even after games like Skyrim have figured it out so effortlessly.

Furthermore, why does stealing things not feel rewarding? Because it doesn’t feel rewarding. Like, at all. I realized this halfway through a mission and had to stop and stare at my hands in horrified disbelief. “What do you mean it doesn’t feel good??” I asked my sulking fingers “You love stealing (in games)!” I continued “Remember how you pick pocketed every royal in Solitude and swept everything off in Windhelm?”. My hands nodded thoughtfully “Why aren’t you enjoying stealing in Thief?” I shouted, as the upstairs neighbors were already shakily phoning the police. And then it hit me. It’s because Thief doesn’t let you explore, it doesn’t let you roam around the streets and grab everything that isn’t nailed to the floor. Oh sure you can steal from a few places, but that’s a very small amount per district and after a while it feels like the game is a bit too “on rails”. A door has to be highlighted for you to open, a plank of wood has to glitter slightly for you to use the rope arrow and why on earth can’t you jump off ropes whenever and wherever you want to? Dishonored seemed to have no issue with this (as did most games made to be fun and engaging to play) but nooooo, Thief has to have things its way; only letting you jump off at the one specific point it feels comfortable with. You know what? Yahtzee was right, it really does feel like there’s a hundred, meddling pairs of hands swarming around you at any moment.

To sum up, Thief is one of the most grotesque reboots I have ever come across. The story is awful, the characters are not so much cardboard as paper thin, there’s bugs everywhere and the central aspect of the game, the whole thieving thing, has had all the fun sucked out of it to attract a broader number of potential buyers. Yes the game does come alive here and there, but those moments are too brief to enjoy and are soon pushed out of the way for more macho monologues. My advice to you? Don’t buy Thief if you really want to feel like an actual thief, just play Skyrim instead(or any other decent stealth game that has stealing in it); a deeper, bigger and more immersive experience than Thief could ever hope to be.

-The Fairy Wizard

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Posted on March 29, 2015, in Features, Geekology, Reviews, Video Games, What's Killing My Social Life This Week and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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