Visible City: Thief Out February

By Adam Smith on August 16th, 2013 at 3:01 pm.

Thief is a slippery game. When it finally revealed itself, the results were impressive, although I found cause for concern in the City’s lack of character and the potentially staged nature of several encounters. Then there was news of disturbances during development, not altogether surprising considering the length of the job and the size of the team. It was when Nathan played the game and reported back that hope sputtered like the torches in Bafford’s mansion. Today, I’m as surprised as could be that a trailer, with no in-game footage, has restored some confidence and interest. The depiction of class warfare is far from subtle, but there are images reminiscent of the earlier games’ cutscenes, and the City looks recognisably magnificent. Also, release may not be as far off as I’d suspected.

Garrett’s voice still conveys too much of the reluctant hero rather than the amused, and eventually overwhelmed, cynic. It’s all well and good if he learns the value of a couple of things, but not the value of standing up for the little guy, please? As I see it, Garrett’s world is too ugly and corrupt (in every sense) to reward heroes, and he’s too smart to do anything that isn’t rewarding. Not a bad person, by the standards that the City sets, but not one for intentional sacrifice, knowing that death is never more than a footstep away.

But The City. The old place looks as good as it has in years and, whatever my misgivings, I can’t deny that seeing it again makes me want to go exploring.

Then there’s that release date. February 25th. Still a long way off but all I’d ever heard was 2014 and I’d started to assume it’d be summer at the earliest.

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73 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    distantlurker says:

    “Caution team”
    “Spell Casting D I S M I S S”

  2. MrThingy says:

    “But The City. The old place looks as good as it has in years and, whatever my misgivings, I can’t deny that seeing it again makes me want to go exploring.”

    It’s a nice city… but it feels like Corvo’s city, not Garett’s city…

    Nothing about this feels like Thief to me. :(

    • Adam Smith says:

      It’s a fair point. There are small touches that bring to mind the oddness of the trilogy though.

      I think the lack of character in most of Dishonored’s characters helped Dunwall to become the conduit of the game’s narrative. Conversely, Thief’s City without the voices and people that were such a part of it does feel less…Thiefy.

      • MrThingy says:

        There’s another thing. (and maybe I just haven’t seen it yet?)

        I hate to say it, but it feels like Thief as re-imagined by the ‘new atheists’.

        There doesn’t seem to be anything spooky, magical or supernatural about this Thief world?

        No crazy Hammers, no Pagans. No monsters. No magic. Just a good old Marxist peasant’s struggle and some bloke wot steals stuff and sticks it to ‘the man’.

        (edit – though, no zombies hopefully. Swings and roundabouts…)

        • Adam Smith says:

          From the few snippets I managed to pry from the devs, they’re holding a lot of that side of the story/setting back so there are some surprises. Whether it’ll be implemented well is another question entirely – but it hasn’t been eradicated. At least, it hadn’t a few months ago :/

        • Gomer says:

          I agree. Though I am ignorant of the Thief games (having never played them myself), I have grown up in the mold of ultra dark, realistic games being an expected norm. Seeing but an arrow of ice or whatever made me cringe inside to the point where I was disinterested. Obviously the Thief games are much ‘wackier’ than this, but it appears that the game is being orientated on what style is accepted at the moment; rather than being true to the franchise. Which is a shame, even if the previous Thief game would have made me wince.

          But hey, that’s just me. I can’t speak for anybody else.

          • Secundus says:

            the original thief games are dark and realistic as hell. The more fantastical elements either being used to add cool gadgets that expand the gameplay, like water arrows that extinguish torches and clean up blood, or to make the game really creepy.

            you should check them out

    • Justin Keverne says:

      It’s visually much more creepy and off kilter than Dishonored’s Dunwall ever was (at least until The Brigmore Witches DLC) and that’s fitting for the City, but visuals alone don’t an inhabitable place make. What’s presented as the fictional context, by the narration, is heavy handed and predictable with none of the moral ambiguity or nuance that Thief was rife with. Overall a mixed bag, and combined with what’s known about how the game will play I’m wary.

      • Emeraude says:

        What’s presented as the fictional context, by the narration, is heavy handed and predictable with none of the moral ambiguity or nuance that Thief was rife with.

        The transition from “What is yours can be mine” to “What’s yours is mine” perfectly encapsulate for me the change between Thief and what we’ve seen so far of Thi4F.

        Adding my voice to the choir: nothing we’ve seen so far hints at this being worth checking first-hand.

    • Premium User Badge

      Zephro says:

      Yeah but both those cities just remind me of London. Same as New Crobozun in Perdido Street Station. They’re all just London.

      • Justin Keverne says:

        Every city Miéville writes about is London, and they are all different, so being “London” isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

        • Premium User Badge

          Zephro says:

          Never meant it as a bad thing, it’s a very good thing. Happens to be my favourite place.

        • Premium User Badge

          Lars Westergren says:

          “The City & the City” city felt more like Prague or St Petersburg, the parts you saw. The city on the other hand was hinted at being somewhat like Istanbul, maybe.

          But then, I’ve only been a tourist in these cities, so I could be way off.

          • Serenegoose says:

            I’ve never even been a tourist in those cities, but that was definitely the impression I got too.

            However, the place where Embassytown is set is also not London.

            But I take the original point. London is a strong leaping off point for a lot of Mieville stories. I mean… Un Lun Dun anyone? ;)

      • MrThingy says:

        London or Edinburgh, circa 1880.

        It was a nice theme for Dunwall, but it feels tired already.

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        Hackneyed opinion!

        • Premium User Badge

          VelvetFistIronGlove says:

          But it was a hansom man wot said it, so I think we cab let it pass.

    • Infinitron says:

      Which is funny, because I’m sure the creators of Dishonored are facepalming at some of Thief’s design decisions.

      See Harvey Smiths’ videos here: http://criticalpathproject.com/?m=Harvey%20Smith

      • Premium User Badge

        JR says:

        Just want to say thank you/I hate you now for showing me the existence of that website. There goes my next few hours.

    • Teovald says:

      It’s not just you. Looking through this trailer there is nothing that reminds me of Thief.
      It is a shame because its universe is pretty unique and this looks absolutely generic..
      Maybe that it is just a PR move in order to keep some things to reveal, but I don’t have high hopes for this game (I will keep an eye on it though).

    • DXN says:

      Yeah. The sound of the City is a dismal, dying drone, not revolutionary rock music. It’s too dark for that kind of fire.

      Whatever – to me, Thief was rich with a wealth of atmosphere and spirit that aren’t in evidence so far in this reboot. Maybe they will be revealed to be there, but I see no reason to expect it. But that’s fine: Thief 1 & 2 still exist and are looking better than ever.

    • G_Man_007 says:

      I was thinking it’s like Dunwall with a Witcher vibe…

  3. Squirly says:

    I wish my excitement for this hadn’t completely bubbled off during the last few revelations. But button-prompt jumping and rope arrows, coupled with 3rd person climbing and QTEs has made this slip off my radar completely. It might be fun on it’s own, but it’s already lost the appeal that a proper Thief game had for me.

  4. wodin says:

    Have no enthusiasm for this at all. Games with a long and rocky development tend not to end well.

    I may be surprised which would be great..but doubt it.

    • Squirly says:

      Well, to be fair, the original Thief had the rockiest development of them all and wasn’t even remotely close to Thief to begin with.

  5. Jekhar says:

    Taken from this article on pc gamer:

    “This Thief game has third- person climbing sections. It makes minor use of quick time events. It has ‘Focus mode’, which gifts master thief Garrett with limited time-slowing combat abilities. It has context-sensitive controls that mean you can only jump when the game says you can jump.”

    Sounds fun, no?

    • Muzman says:

      No indeed.

    • Faxmachinen says:

      I’m going to keep hoping it turns out to be good, because I want “I never paid the price for anything” on a T-shirt.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      Also their bizarre reasoning behind that is that they want to enhance the player’s immersion…

      To their minds, being able to jump and scale levels at not just pre-determined points breaks immersion. Even though some of that article is optimistic, none of this is very promising. If they put in quicktime-events and switch to third person for AssCreed climbing, but feel “bouncing around” (sic) is what breaks immersion, there’s clearly some lack of understanding at work. Or more likely just plain old disingenuous marketing speak to cover for the fact they’re turning Thief into a console franchise.

      This looks more and more like something I might pick up at a sale years from now. I’m just sick and tired of playing games where I’m constantly fighting the multiplatform mechanics just to get to the better bits, only to be reminded at every turn I’m playing a console game.

      What I REALLY don’t understand is why they don’t just make different versions for different platforms. If they think consoles desperately need third-person climbing, context-sensitive jumps and QTEs and crap like adaptive dynamic difficulty, why not keep that shit on consoles? (not that I imagine console players enjoy that any more than we do; but such is the generally accepted and confused state of AAA gaming right now; large dev teams have lost the courage to challenge orthodoxy).

      I mean, they’re already doing separate control schemes, why not go one step further in the right direction and simply acknowledge that the entirety of movement mechanics should be different?

      • Runs With Foxes says:

        Their misuse of ‘immersion’ is really confusing. I don’t know how you get to be a designer on a Thief game (a game that’s part of a legacy of immersive simulations) if you have no idea what immersion is or how to foster it.

      • KenTWOu says:

        What I REALLY don’t understand is why they don’t just make different versions for different platforms. If they think consoles desperately need third-person climbing, context-sensitive jumps and QTEs and crap like adaptive dynamic difficulty, why not keep that shit on consoles?

        Are you SERIOUS?

  6. S Jay says:

    Nice CGI trailer, but nothing proved until the game is out and we see if it is clustered with QTE and such.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      It is. QTE’s, contextual jumping (!), third person climbing bits, scripted, linear escapes from burning buildings…they definitely didn’t go all out on making a Thief game.

      Hopefully it’s at least a fun game in its own right though.

      • derbefrier says:

        contextual jumping? when did we find this out. Everything else you said I know is true but this is the first I have heard of no manual jumping. I could have sworn i saw mantling and the dude jumping on his own in that long video

        oh shit nevermind just read ole boys comment above. I guess i need to read that article

  7. Danda says:

    Did they reuse DXHR’s soundtrack? This sounds like a Deus Ex prequel.

    • Faxmachinen says:

      That would actually be a good thing, since DXHR’s soundtrack is fucking awesome.

  8. mikmanner says:

    This doesn’t even remotely feel like Thief. The style is bullshit, though the city does look good. Dishonored is closer in tone and feel to Thief than this.

    There’s nothing in this trailer that looks bad, but it just doesn’t feel right – it’s not that I can’t handle change but this isn’t hitting any of the thematic beats that I’d associate with a Thief game. Everything I’ve seen of it looks humorless and overly slick.

    Looking back, the Thief games are pretty surreal – especially Thief 2. This doesn’t seem to have much of an identity apart from the whole punk medieval thing.

  9. Mr.Snowy says:

    For me, there is a faint but unmistakeable whiff of the vile purulence that is “Aliens: Colonial Marines Syndrome” to this one.

    I hope that it is all it should be, but I will be awaiting firn confirmation of this being the case before I purchase!

    • Pockets says:

      It’ll be less “Aliens: Colonial Marines” so much as “The 400 Blows 2 – A Michael Bay production”, from the look of it. It looks perfectly competent in being something completely inappropriate to the series, rather than just a turd.

    • Baines says:

      I’m leaning more towards another Space Hulk, where RPS is positive about the game all through its previews, then the negative WIT is posted.

      I don’t think it is going to be a Colonial Marines. It isn’t going to be downright fraudulent, with allegations that include legal threats and embezzlement. It is just going to be another modern game, another Dishonored clone, or another Hitman: Absolution, a game that uses the Thief name without actually being a Thief game. It may even sell.

      • Premium User Badge

        Thirith says:

        What does “Another Dishonored clone” even mean? How many Dishonored clones have there been, and could you point me in their direction, please?

        • Runs With Foxes says:

          If this is a Dishonored clone, it looks like a shit one.

          And Dishonored is much closer to the original Thief games in design philosophy.

  10. Stevostin says:

    Art Direction, if not bold, truly is at its best here. Very, very beautiful setting. No please ungoth the guy and put back cynism. God knows the setting rich vs poor is excellent to despise them all, and have huge fun at it!

  11. mikmanner says:

    Also this is total bullshit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L67VurX81VI

    Listen to the music! What the fuck is that about?

    • Gamboni says:

      Come on, everyone knows the strongest point of each Thief’s soundtrack was the brilliant use of Generic Orchestral Action Track #163 (that’s the one with extra boomy drums and a supremely furious brass section).

    • Contrafibularity says:

      I must be going deaf because I don’t hear any music. If they really replaced the tense, eerie and foreboding ambient music with orchestral Wagner that would be another nail in the coffin though.

  12. Kodaemon says:

    I’m confused. The Lord Regent comes back from the dead, Sokolov is apparently running the resistance, and Corvo, still grieving over the Empress, has developed a fetish for stealing stuff from women who kinda look like her.

  13. Turkey says:

    Gee, I wonder if this AAA video game will have something interesting to say about class war.

  14. Muzman says:

    My general feeling is still ‘I dunno. Maybe’

    Woefully generic dialogue though. And music too.

  15. InternetBatman says:

    I’ve been pretty skeptical of this game, but the rope arrows only is specified places is a deal breaker for me. They limited use of the rope arrow in other thief games without the unnecessary restrictions.

    For me, the ideal stealth game would not be one where pathways are created through a level, it’s one where buildings have reasonable defenses and players break those defenses.

    • kament says:

      I’ll admit that restricted use of a gadget does feel confining.

      Still, being an optimist, I’m trying to look at the bright side and not to grumble. It this particular case I can’t help but remember myself rage-quitting after several failed attemts to land a rope arrow, failed because there’s a specific angle to do that which you have no way of knowing and have to determine by trial and error. Same goes for climbing gloves (and climbing in general) in TDS.

      I’d prefer to know exactly what I can and cannot do in my game, it really does help. Though I wish it wasn’t achieved by reducing my options (even those without much sense), it’s still something. Or I’m trying to think that way.

      Otherwise I would give up on videogames a long time ago. Maybe it would be better, though. Hmm.

  16. Deadly Habit says:

    All the reveals for this have completely put me off this, it seems once again they cast aside the original core fanbase in favor of modern audiences, or just completely missed the mark on what made the original so popular. They said you can turn off the new features and such, but after Eidos’ last few titles that similarly promised the same, I think we know better than to trust that.

  17. GallonOfAlan says:

    If it ends up on a par with the Deus Ex reboot (sans boss level stupidity) I reckon I’ll be OK. Assuming also that it errs far more on the side of big sandbox levels that you approach how you will than Dishonored did.

  18. fish99 says:

    I’ll celebrate this games release next year by replaying both Thief games instead.

  19. RProxyOnly says:

    So this is just going to be ‘Thief’s Creed’ then?

  20. analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

    The nearer I get to this game the more I feel like I’ve had something stolen………………

  21. JoeX111 says:

    I love the way you described Garrett there. “Garrett’s world is too ugly and corrupt (in every sense) to reward heroes, and he’s too smart to do anything that isn’t rewarding.” Never heard it put quite like that before. Really captures the whole character quite eloquently.

  22. Sinnorfin says:

    Sounds like he talks about Victoria in the end.

  23. DestructibleEnvironments says:

    THIS IS THE BEST DISHONORED DLC.

  24. Incision says:

    February 25th is not the release date. That’s just part of the marketing train. They’ll announce a delay in October or November for “extra polish”.

    And the first thing I thought is how much like Dunwall the city looks. Unfortunately the writing on the trailers thus far has been mindbogglingly incompetent with a complete failure to understand the character of Garret and a smattering of the usual cliches. I have no idea what idiot decided Garrett was a sneakier version of Rambo, but their influence will sink this rather dismal looking effort.

  25. Premium User Badge

    Hidden_7 says:

    The more I see of this game the sadder I get. Thief 1 & 2 are my favourite games of all time, and have been since I’ played them on release so many moons ago. So obviously I’m a little biased here, and not coming at this with the fresh eyes it deserves. That being said, however, while I enjoy the gameplay of Thief quite a bit, I don’t feel overly beholden to it. It’s great, I love it, and more games need to learn from it, but it’s also not my favourite part of Thief. It’s something I could stand back and rationally and objectively look at updates and reimaginings to.

    So, while I am very worried about the various mechanical choices the devs are making, almost all of which sound terrible but I haven’t seen them in action so who knows, it’s stuff like this that really disheartens me. Because my favourite part of Thief was Garrett and the City / World. Thief has one of my favourite fantasy settings, and one of my favourite game protagonists. And from what I’ve seen, Eidos have failed completely to capture either of those in this. That’s not Garrett (and it’s not just the voice, though yeah, it is that a bit). That’s not even recognizably a version of Garrett. And that’s not the City. It’s not recognizably a version of The City.

    Sad as it’s looking, I might have to give this one a pass. I was as excited as anyone when a new Thief was announced, and I enjoyed Human Revolution quite a bit. That gave me a good bit of hope. But everything I’ve seen of this new Thief has sapped that hope. I don’t think my heart could take actually playing it.

    • kament says:

      I must say, you have a very tender heart, sir-madam.

    • fish99 says:

      TBH the Thief series died to me the day Looking Glass died, and I never had any hope at all that anyone would come along and make another Thief game that felt like a real Thief game. So Thief 3 and this new one, I’m not disappointed because my expectations were always zero, and there is literally no chance I will ever play either. They may as well not exist. To me calling them Thief is just abusing the license and the fondness Thief fans have for the original LG games.

      There is and always will be only 2 Thief games.

      Having said that this may be a decent game in it’s own right for people who never played the series. It just won’t be a Thief game. I’d rather they just made a fresh IP for their action stealth game like Arkane did with Dishonored. I doubt the Thief name will guarantee them much sales these days anyway.

      Meanwhile I’ll be replaying Thief 1/2 as I did last year.

      • kament says:

        Let me get this straight. You’ve never actually played Thief: Deadly Shadows. But somehow mysteriously you just know it wouldn’t feel the same way, wouldn’t have that certain vibe. Because, well, it’s not a Looking Glass game.

        Same goes (or will go, to be precise) for this new Thief game. And if someone think differrently, well, they’re just not fond enough fan of the series.

        Sounds about right?

        • stackedmidgets says:

          Seems like they’re trying to push some kind of weird techno-fascist vs. proletariat narrative.

          Except Thief 2 did that already, but better, with a schismatic religious angle that echoed real conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in Europe while also thematically tying into the Christianization of Europe and its discontents (represented by the Pagans). They do this without making it a didactic allegory and keeping it light and fun (the techno-reformation builds magic submarines, for example).

          This gets the time period wrong (social Darwinism belongs to the 20th century; Thief is more about the end of the middle ages) and lacks the special mytho-weirdness that made Thief interesting as fiction and game. The theme of plague isn’t very fun in a video game played straight, but played as a metaphor for exploring ruined parts of a formerly great city for wealth while dodging zombies, it works superbly. That the city is built atop ruins from an older civilization, and that you actually get to see that transition through awesome level design without loading screens, makes the games hold up even better over time than they really should.

          It’s depressing as hell that few modern games have even come close to the sound and level design of these old-ass classics.

          It’s that sense of there being more to a world than is ever explained in the text is what makes for compelling fantasy fiction. I get none of that sense from these trailers.

          Another thing that made Garret interesting as a protagonist for a game is that there were no stupid romance elements. nu-Garret from the trailer is apparently upset over some girl. Lame.

  26. kament says:

    If this has open world structure, I’m sold. I have replayed TDS recently, and it’s City is the best of the series so far; stuffy though it is, it’s way better than disconnected sequence of levels with no ambience whatsoever, if you know what I mean.

    But even the City of the Deadly Shadows had never offered much to look at: an occasional couple of roofs here, an odd blurry skyline there, maybe some landmarks (remember the Clocktower? What a sight it was, eh?). Mostly it was street-level and in the dark, so it’s no surprise, but I was always curious about the whole (or at least bigger) view and have never seen it in-game and cinematics were always, well, shit.

    As for the art style, it’s still the same quasi Victorian and fantasy mush up, it’s just that Dishonored beat them to it with detailed graphics, hence the confusion.

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  28. GamesInquirer says:

    The graphics are pretty nice but I read you can’t jump and rope arrows are context sensitive actions among other things. I suppose level design could still allow for freedom and fun but I don’t see a good reason to remove the bits of player skill involved in manually performing all the actions, from jumping to using your varied tools to whacking someone over the head, instead of simply press A and watch the awesome unfold. Manual control when done right is satisfying and it’s not like the first two games’ controls were overcomplicated or weird, they’d only take a few minor tweaks to be brought up to what people expect of modern titles. They could even work on those console boxes quite well (for example you could switch arrow types with the d-pad when aiming your bow, melee weapons in the same way when you have one of those out, switch between the rest tools when not, etc).

    I would expect a real sequel to expand on the systems that back in their day seemed like simulations of fantasy worlds, rather than remove any of the freedom and detail. For example, in regards to rope arrows I’d wish to see them used similarly to Thief II, except have them stick to any surface it would make sense to rather than simply wood and gratings and also give you the ability to swing on them to reach places further away (rather than jump off of them which isn’t as realistic). AI should be also be allowed to see the rope hanging if you leave it behind and realize someone came in, while to avoid that give you the choice to pull the rope but lose the arrow (vs retrieving the arrow and the rope together if you can reach them). Similarly for everything, more simulation and more control, not less.