I played just over one hour of Thief last night; I finished the prologue, and then made my way to the clocktower (via the jewel store?).
Look, I know literally nothing about game design or programming or really anything about the game development process, and yet the things that are wrong with Thief leap off the screen almost immediately:
1. Horrendous voice acting / even more horrendous voice casting. This shouldn’t necessarily be at the top of the list as far as deal-breakers go, but JESUS CHRIST. If you want to convince me of the reality of the world you’ve created – and if the world you’ve created is not a melting pot like modern New York City, but rather some medieval European town – try to make at least 50% of your townspeople sound like they’re from the same place. And if, for some unknown reason, such a feat is not possible, try to not cast people who sound like they’re former cast members of Jersey Shore.
2. Using the PS4 controller’s touchpad as the inventory screen. The touchpad can be used for many things, I suppose – it is quite responsive – but the way they’ve designed the inventory management is so mind-boggling that it kinda makes me want to not use anything if I don’t absolutely have to. My understanding is that the Xbox One version uses a radial menu system that makes some degree of intuitive sense; without seeing it in action, I can’t comment on it, but it must be better than what’s happening on the PS4.
3. Unintentionally ugly character models. Especially Garrett. Thank goodness you don’t see his face all that much. It’s not uncanny valley-bad; it’s just bad.
4. If you must open your story with a well-worn trope of the brash young apprentice vs. the master, at least try to make at least one of the characters sympathetic. Garrett is a whiny asshole, and the girl – I’ve forgotten her name already – is an even whinier asshole, and I was not in the last bit sorry when she died at the beginning of the prologue (if that is in fact what happened to her – considering how predictable the story is already, I’m sure there’s a good chance she’s not dead at all).
5. Speaking of which, what the fuck happened between the prologue and the first chapter? I’m willing to suspend my disbelief when necessary, but I literally have no idea what happened. I’m hoping this gets explained soon.
As far as the rest of it… well, it’s not really all that terrible, which is what’s frustrating. The comparisons to Dishonored are apt, though honestly I’d rather be playing Dishonored. Since I’m here, though, the sneaking and thieving and hiding and such are all pretty good and satisfying to pull off. I am determined to play as sneakily as possible, which includes not knocking anybody out if I can avoid it, and so cleaning out a jewelry store while a guard was patrolling the same room did feel pretty awesome. Of course, the guard’s AI pattern was pretty easy to decipher, and so it wasn’t necessarily as tense as it could’ve been, but still – the act of thieving (in that particular scenario) was well executed. So, there’s that.
Like I said the other day, I’m coming to this game with very low expectations; I never played the original games, and I was let down by the 2004 Xbox game. I’m playing this mostly because I want to keep the dust off my PS4, and so I’m doing everything I can to keep myself interested and motivated. It’s just… man. It’s hard not to be disappointed when you can see the potential for greatness being overwhelmed by all the junk being poured on top of it.
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