Hold your taffer! I can already see pitchforks pointing at me but hear me out.
I love Thief The Dark Project (1) and Thief The Metal Age (2) very much. The Metal Age, especially, is one of my favorite games ever beside Deus Ex.
But Thief 2014, judging on its own merit, is actually a very good stealth game. It's not an Immersive Sim, sure, but a very solid stealth.
A little bit of background here, I'm an animation filmmaker, comic artist and illustrator. For me, I value creative freedom the most so when I come to "judge" a work, I judge by its own merit, whether it's an installment on a particular franchise or series. That's why I quite like Ninja Theory's DMC and IO's Hitman Absolution while a lot of their fans dismiss both games.
Now on Thief 2014's weaknesses. It's actually a lot.
(1) First off, the cinematics/cutscene are badly directed, they're like a B-movie, the editing is often off, and shaky camera glued to the characters' face does not help at all.
(2) Hub world is poorly designed, you can get lost in the hub world anytime, thankfully the minimap can be turn on and off at any time too. The Hub also suffers because there are not many interesting building that can tell you "Oh I'm in this district". The colors are very much the same too. and Load Screens, Oh God so many of them.
(3) Minimal character development and/or background. Orion, Baron, Thief-Taker General, Erin can be good if they are given character developments. Thief-Taker General should be removed altogether, especially his character design is clearly copy pasted from Daniel Day-Lewis character in Gangs Of New York.
(4) Scripted game design. If only rope arrows can be attached to any woods, broadhead and blunt arrows merged into one so that arrow can attack enemy, distract guards and create diversion/path, water arrows can make floor wet so enemies can fall, lamps can be broken by shooting a broadhead arrow to it and If only Garrett can JUMP, seriously Garrett, learn how to jump please.
Thief 2014's strength:
(1) Movement and physicality. For me, the greatest achievement Thief 2014 get is its physicality. Garrett's hand and movement are so good it is easy to be immersed as a thief. Every first person animation is very well done and Garrett's hands are so delicate. Picking up any objects load a certain hand animation which actually forces you to keep in mind your surroundings.
(2) Client Jobs such as Ector and Vittorio are mostly good and they are condensed within their own levels. And they're sometimes funny.
(3) Swoop. Swoop is very very enjoyable and it is not overpowered. it does have its own setbacks depending on surrounding such as swooping near a bird or shattered glass. also you still can be seen while swooping. It's great.
(4) Environment Traps. shattered glass, birds, dogs, floor traps, etc make you look closer to your surrounding.
(5) Garrett and his vulnerability. his BDSM clothing is actually very good and he can be quite sarcastic, but sometimes cringey. But I love that Garrett is shorter than most people in the game, and especially weaker. This is a stealth game after all. His strength come from shadows, speed and arrows.
(6) Erin's Claw as a motif for Garrett's guilt for losing Erin and also as a reminder that Erin is still alive. It's very subtle and I don't get it the first time but It makes the story much more personal for Garrett.
(7) Gorgeous art direction. well the director (Nicolas Cantin) is also its own art director so it tells you a lot.
(8) Main Missions Level Designs are mostly good with multiple paths and more memorable locations.
(1) Story pacing and direction is all over the place. I think there's a lot of arguments and fighting in the game developments, especially Nicolas Cantin only become Game Director on the last 2 years of developments.
(2) Factions are not very different than each other. Graven and City Watch look pretty much the same, and very bland. I miss old colorful Pagans, religious sect Hammerites and cult Mechanist. also Keepers, Keepers and Glyphs are at the very heart of Thief, I miss those robes.
(3) Environment storytellings are sometimes done good but often just very minimal, also a lot of rooms/houses in Hub World are devoid of NPCs.
(4) Ending. it's open ended, I like it, and it hints that Erin is alive but it is very cliffhanger. what about Queen of Beggars who can disappear all of a sudden from clock tower? what about Baron? what about our lovely friend Basso?
(5) Garrett and his cringey lines. "I've been a ghost all my life" "It's not about how much you steal, but what you steal" COME ON EIDOS! Garrett should be living in an actual apartment and his reason to steal is to pay his rent and to retire. yet Thief 2014's Garrett is a kleptomaniac who says stealing is what he is. what a shame.
(7) Focus ability. it is much more fun when you don't use it, but at least the mechanic is integrated to its main story.
(8) Sound design. sometimes it's good, sometimes it's not.
So that's my take on Thief 2014.
I do hope that if Eidos can go back to the franchise, they take all its criticisms to heart and make next Thief game an immersive sim because I am confused, they made Human Revolution and Mankind Divided still an immersive sim, what the hell happened to Thief 2014 development? I know Thief's team is different than HR or MD but they should learn from Deus Ex team on how to do Modern Immersive Sim.
Hope there's another AAA game where you are very very very vulnerable human being and not rely on your superpowers.
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