The Thief series of games has been with us since 1998, with the end of the trilogy appearing in 2004. Now we have Square Enix and Edios Montréal breathing life back into these dusty treasure troves, and delivering them to the current gen markets for fans to enjoy. This new game in the series simply entitled Thief, is set after the events of the original series, and heralds the return of Garrett, the master thief, who still bears the scars of the original series along with his new eye. For those of you that has forgotten his story, Garrett was recruited by the Keepers as a child, he later left this band of brothers to fend for himself, utilising the skills he picked up during his time with the Keepers, he now steals for his own gain, or for anyone who can afford his services.

Thief centres around Dayport, a city in the grip of fear, disease, poverty and the merciless law of The Watch. Hired to steal a jewel, something goes horribly wrong and you lose an entire year of your life, not to mention a good friend, and now the ‘gloom’ is spreading over the city, ending lives with sickness and depravity, nowhere is safe from this creeping, silent death. Dayport sets the scene perfectly, with it’s dark, dank atmosphere surrounded by Victorian style buildings for the rich, while the poor line the streets, or live on top of each other in the squalid conditions of poorly kept rooms and makeshift hovels. Even if the gloom was not spreading through the population, it is easy to see that this city is sick, in it’s laws to keep the poor where they are with curfews, starvation, intimidation and violence, and the opulent living of the rich as they think they are too high for the gloom to reach. The entire dimly lit streets of the city have been designed to give you many paths on you way to the objectives, while giving you plenty of opportunities to practice your break and enter’ skills along the way. Exploration is key, as many of the hidden treasures are off the beaten path, tucked away in some dusty drawer high above the stench of the streets.

Collecting these trinkets enables you to replenish your stock of tricks, including rope, water, choke and other various types of arrow, that help you to reach those high places, knock out noisy dogs or put out fires that are illuminating the map too much. Thief has a number of styles in which you can play through each level, and these are entirely up to you, you can stay undetected and move stealthily through the shadows, or you can take the offensive, knocking out or attacking any guards you see. The problem with these styles lies in the complete lack of imagination put into them, basically cower and hide or hit and run, it’s far from the stylish ways in which you can achieve all of these things in Dishonored. I mean there are only so many windows you can jimmy open or drawers you can rifle through before it all gets repetitive and boring, making all the missions blend into one drawn out bad dream of the last. Gamers today expect certain standards, we want new, exciting and diverse ways in which to achieve these things as the levels progress, that is why most games bless you with some new power or upgrade as you proceed deeper into the game, finally combining into the ultimate badass Thief, that can open drawers using telekinesis, teleport from rooftop to rooftop, or at the very least have a weapon that can take down half an army with one pull of the trigger. All I can say is, they seriously missed some tricks here, and maybe even thought the original fans of the series would cover their expenses on this one!.

We do however have the use of one power in Thief, and that is ‘Focus’. Focus highlights the interactable portions of the map, and to be honest is handy at times especially when searching for a hidden switch, but focus runs out rapidly so be careful when choosing to use it. Another part of Thief that didn’t quite glue the experience together for me, was the use of so many accents, from Texan guards looking for cock rings, too the Australians that long for tea. All of these little details only detracted from the game as a whole, when you so clearly see the effort Edios put into creating the atmospheric backdrop. At times I was completely immersed in the game only to be kicked back to reality by these irritating oversights. This leads me onto the AI, guards that are on patrol protecting a stately home, or keeping a watchful eye for any civilian breaking curfew, but sadly is more artificial than intelligent. I can’t count the number of times I have stolen a valuable, alerting the guards through any number of mistakes only to hide in the shadows, while they stand at the door with a torch for a moment and then go away, instead of walking into the room and looking. I have alerted caged birds and dogs, put out fires while they stood round them, in fact I have alerted them in everyway I could think of, and in each case simply hiding in the shadow of a box for a moment will soon see the danger pass.

Thief is a game that has torn me, on one hand I have really enjoyed creeping around in the shadows, stealing from anyone and everyone, but on the other hand there is only so much of this you can do before it becomes tiresome. They set the scene perfectly, marrying it with just the right atmosphere, only to populate it with dumb accents, stupid AI and unrealistic loot, remember this is a poor downtrodden society, why would there be silver candle sticks, money laden purses and coins strewn about the streets!. They also have great touches, like peeking through keyholes before picking the lock and the clever use of peep holes to uncover some of the story, again sadly overshadowed by glitches like voiceovers that begin playing too early or too quietly or which repeats, and barks of dialogue that play over one another to create a cacophony of noise. In the end Thief is a game that showed no real moves forward, but instead chose to stay in the past where it began, given all that it could have been, it falls short of the mark at every turn. I find it frustrating when companies revisit these games and bring them back to our minds, instead of making it a more exciting game to live up to the demanding gamers of today, they so often think it would be better not to evolve the formula, and make a game that would be exciting in 1998, forgetting that we are actually in 2014.