[E3 2013] The Thing That Goes Bump In The Night

The boys from Eidos Montreal gave is a good look at the next Thief game.
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: June 12, 2013
It's been nearly a decade since the release of Thief 3 and for a while there it seemed like we had seen the end of the series. A year or so ago rumors began to swirl that a new entry in the franchise was being worked on at Eidos Montreal, and soon those rumors were confirmed. Keeping with a popular trend, they've reset the name to just plain old Thief. We got our first look at an early pre-alpha of it during E3.

Thief brings the return of Garrett, who is not just a thief but a MASTER thief from way back, and time hasn't softened the man. There is still plenty of thieving to do, and in true Robin Hood fashion, that thieving is generally done to those who are at least as morally corrupt as Garrett himself. Garrett has learned a few new trick since the last time we saw him.

One thing that jumps out at your right away when seeing Thief is just how much it draws from Eidos Montreal's last game, Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The stealth interface, the feel of the game, the whole tone just has that same vibe. Not that that is a bad thing, Deus Ex was one of the more polished games of this (or can we start calling it "the last") generation.

We were shown the full run of a mission where Garrett had to infiltrate the Northcrest Manor to steal the Heart of the Lion from an evil Baron. Over the course of the demo it was abundantly clear there were multiple ways of going about infiltrating and exfiltrating the manor. Garrett could go in from the ground, from way up high, and probably from underneath, and choosing the way that keeps you as far from the guards as possible is probably the best one. There was a lot of classic Thief gameplay on display. Rope arrows could be used to reach far off spots, flame arrows could set off pools of oil, and blunt arrows could be used to distract guards. There were a few new tricks too, such as the ubiquitous focus ability that did everything from letting you "see" far off footsteps sonar-style to speeding up the time it took to pick locks to giving you a "zoom" ability for your bow.

Once Garrett had climbed over, under and around all the patrols to get in the building it still wasn't over. Somewhere in the manor was a hidden room and first Garrett had to track that down. Once it was discovered it turned out that a puzzle had to be solved before the heart would be revealed. During all this Garrett still had to keep an eye out for guards because as in the past, combat is only a last resort, and even then the odds are stacked against you. Stealth is ALWAYS the best option.

Once we had the booty in hand (not to mention plenty of other gold and whatnot that was lying around) there was still the small matter of escaping. During the escape Garrett fled into a building that was burning. What was amazing was that the fire began to spread, and Garrett was forced to make a decision between attempting to pick the lock of a tempting chest or getting the hell out of dodge before becoming engulfed in flames. It added an interesting dimension as this was something Garrett couldn't control.

Obviously it's still pretty early in the process with Thief and while there was an undeniable "last gen" feel to the game it was definitely true to the spirit of the games. With a beloved series like this there is often a delicate balance of updating the mechanics while embracing the past, which is something this team understands well. So far it looks like this is going to be another beloved entry in the series.