What’s immediately impressive about Thief from the short hands-off time we had with it is that it’s gorgeous. Looking a step above even the highest high end PS3 titles, the graphical fidelity in Thief — even at this early stage — is astounding and an excellent showcase for the power of the PlayStation 4.
The preview we were shown was set a few hours into the campaign as the citizens of The City are rioting against the oppression of The Baron and the ruling upper class. The City is in chaos and Garret — master thief that he is — takes the opportunity to sneak into The Baron’s castle and steal the “Heart of the Lion”.
The Victorian and steampunk setting of the game recall Dishonored, although Thief is far more dark, gloomy and oppressive. An ever present fog pushes in on the world and helps to establish the oppressive and bleak tone of the game. It’s obvious from the outset that The City is not an ideal place to live, unless of course you’re from the ruling class. It’s in the midst of all this gloom that Garrett makes his way as a master thief, using the environment to his advantage, rather than merely being another victim.
In the demo it was shown that Garrett has a wide range of abilities and items at his disposal to assist in his less than legal activities. Chief among them is the ability to “swoop” between areas of shadow to quickly and quietly avoid detection. A welcome feature is the visual feedback which lets the player know when Garrett is hidden. The HUD will be greyed out which is a subtle tell, but the edges of the screen will also swirl with shadows giving you a definite indication of Garrett’s status. It makes it simple to know whether you are definitely hidden or out in the open and will remove some frustration often associated with stealth gameplay.
Garret can use a wide array of arrows including the fan favourite rope arrow and water arrows for dousing torches and creating more shadows to hide within. Whilst aiming, the player is able to activate “Focus” which briefly slows down time and allows for higher precision. Focus can also be activated whilst pickpocketing and lock picking to speed up the process. Being a master thief, Garret is incredibly agile and can scale most walls and buildings with ease. For the most part, the game retains the first person camera perspective, but will on occasion switch to a third person camera — much like Deus Ex: Human Revolution — to assist with climbing.
Throughout the demo Garrett’s hands are ever present create a sense of a tactile world. While peering around corners, climbing or looking for hidden switches, Garrett’s hands are always in view and moving fluidly. It helps convey to the player that Garrett does have incredible skills and immerses them in the role they’re playing.
I’ve mentioned the impressive visuals, but during the latter half of the demo, Garrett is moving through an area of The City which is burning from the riots. Buildings collapse and cause debris and sparks to be strewn all over. The lighting in this particular sequence is breath taking as light and shadow flicker as the fire grows.
Even at this very early stage Thief is highly impressive and if the team at Eidos Montreal continue down this path they’re sure to have a blockbuster on their hands. At Stevivor we couldn’t be more excited.
Thief will be available for PC, PS4 and Xbox One in 2014.