So I'm playing Thief again lately, and I've always loved this game and seeing it lauded or discussed always brought a smile to my face.
But this playthrough (this'll make me sound like a shmuck but oh well when do I not), I'm really seeing what a masterpiece it is mechanically.
Like how the game conveys information, the use of sound is genius. Not just by how it informs you how noisy the ground beneath you is, but also in the environment as a whole. I became really aware while playing of how much I was using my ears to figure out how safe an area was or whether that guard had spotted me after all.
Similar information-conveyance brilliance, how the UI is pared down to nothing except the crucial: your health and your visibility gem. No symbol to show me what weapon I have equipped (that's visible directly). No mini-map. No nothing, except the most minimal essential features.
There's nothing superfluous between you and the world you'll be interacting with.
Talking about the 'world', I was amazed anew at how solid a simulation it is, which I've been realising is something I miss powerfully when it's absent in a game. There're simple rules in place, and it's up to me the player to take advantage of those rules. As opposed to there being arbitrary half-"rules" depending on what the developer assumed you'd think of. I'd a host of moments in Thief where I did something, and then caught myself, realising "There are a lot of other games where if I'd tried that, the game woulda just said 'Nope, can't do that'".
And on top of all that, I was admiring the atmosphere and how (cutscenes aside) Thief tells its story. I came to growl at enemies, not because of specific mission objectives telling me how justified I was in killing them, but because of their actual presence in the world - their interactions with another, their declarations when chasing me, their attitudes expressed in notes and such I came across. They all added up to a philosophy that I plain didn't like. That's how you get me into your story, games! It's the same ethos as a simulation. Put in wood that acts like wood, and fire that acts like fire, and religious maniacs that act like religious maniacs, and leave it up to me to decide how to interact and feel about 'em all.
So yeah. What a game. In fact I'm calling it: Keep's Most Admired Game Of All Time (Maybe I should change my username?)
Anyway it makes a nice change from checking out your teenage idols, music/books/woteva a decade later and wondering "I thought this was good? What the hell was I thinking!)
Anyone have similar experiences with their own revisits?