Thursday, October 25, 2018

So I restarted playing Thief for about the dozenth time, with the intent of finally pushing past the horrible beginning to find out if it was as bad as the reviews. I'm now solidly into the territory I enjoy - exploration, jobs, puzzles and (of course) stealing things. It's definitely not as good as the original Thief games - but it might be on par with Thief Deadly Shadows, which was the weakest of the original three for me but still enjoyable.

The Good
  • Visually the game is amazing 
  • Lockpicking and the general cracking/puzzle solving are my favorite out of all of the Thief games. I really like the mechanic to check for hidden switches. In fact, I can say that I like most of the mechanics. 
The OK
It makes me feel like this
  • I remember a lot of reviews complaining about changes to the controls - basically, it takes a lot of the pixelbitching out of climbing, mantling, etc. When you are able to do the thing (such as jumping over or off of something, crouching behind something, climbing) you press E when you're in the right place and you do the thing. I got used to it pretty easy, although I still occasionally attach myself and wind up peeking around a corner or box when I really wanted to sail right by. 

  • Related to this, there's not quite as much freedom of movement. In the previous Thief games, you could only fire rope arrows into specific materials (i.e., wood), but you could totally fire a rope arrow and climb up only to have nowhere to go. In the reboot, you can only fire them on to specific overhands and whatnot. This is slightly made up for by the fact that if you can fire a rope arrow at it, there is something to get to from there. Similarly, there are things that can broken with blunt arrows like winches, handles, etc. If that's the case, again there's going to be something there. 
  • The levels are pretty straightforward without a lot of alternate paths to get around obstacles, but to be honest I think I've also been spoiled by Dishonored where if you can reach it you can teleport to it (like Thief, there's no guarantee you can go anywhere from that spot, but I have found some novel paths to get places in Dishonored). The levels are definitely smaller than many of the levels in the original Thief games. 
  • I've never been a fan of only being able to save at checkpoints. Having to randomly hide in cabinets to get said save is kind of funny, especially since one of the commands in the cabinet is something like "barge out". Since this reminds me of my four year old liking to hide in cabinets and closets, I always imagine Garrett is going to jump out and yell, "Surprise!" or "You found me!". 
  • I have my difficulty settings cranked up a little bit, mostly because Thief-ing is old hat to me and otherwise it would be super easy to breeze past guards and whatnot. With it set so I can only knock out hostiles, and not kill anybody (directly - I quickly found breaking a pulley and dropping stuff on people doesn't count), I occasionally find that the line between hostile and civilian is fuzzy, For example, there is this guy in the foundry mission who obviously works for the "Thief-Taker General" (whatever the hell that is supposed to mean) and is in a uniform. Nope, can't knock his ass out. I guess the litmus test is if they run or don't react to you, can't knock them out. 
  • I'll preface this with the fact that I haven't been trying really hard to find every piece of loot, but it seems that without using Focus it's super easy to miss loot and collectibles. Overall, it hasn't yet impacted my game other than seeing all of the crap I missed at the end of a mission - but I suppose at some point only getting a fraction of the coin will eat into my ability to buy equipment. But beyond that, and maybe it's just because I'm early in the game, but the expenditure of Focus Points doesn't seem to add much to the game - especially compared to a game like Dishonored, where your abilities have a range of usefulness. I guess I just need to buckle down and start using Focus everywhere. 
  • Speaking of gear, while I like the expanded equipment I'm not totally sold on having to go specific dudes to buy it, especially if that means having to listen to their dialogue. I much preferred the earlier system where you had to choose your load out before the mission. 
I'm talking about this guy. Also, he looks like he wants to flash me. 
The Bad
  • Pretty much every character in the game. Seriously. The dialogue is cringeworthy at best, the voice acting ranges from wooden to jarring to "Did this guy wander away from a Barnum and Bailey's?" 

  • The plot, at least so far, especially combined with the really horrible dialogue and voice acting. Also, while I understand that there were likely some independent, parallel things going on with Thief's development vs Dishonored...there are things that strike me as a little too similar. Garrett returning to a city stricken by a plague, the beggar-queen character, etc. I haven't gotten too far into it to know if it continues to be not very compelling - but the beginning with Erin and then being taken back into the city on a beggar's death cart without much explanation fell flat enough that it kept me from engaging with the story and just not getting any further a whole bunch of times. When I restarted it this time I saw I had about 10 1/2 hours of play, and realized it was likely the same 45 minutes to an hour repeated about ten times - and even then bits were forgettable enough that it was like I was playing them all over again. 
  • The hands. Oh God the hands. It looks like Garrett just got out of bed and is trying to find the bathroom with the lights off. 
With all of that said, this time I think I'll finish it just to cross it off the list and move on to some other games in my library. I likely won't go back and replay it though.

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