Thief has a brilliant options menu. Visual aids like loot-glint, objective markers and object highlighting can be disabled for a score multiplier. You can even turn off Garrett's new "focus" mode, and guard alert indicators, and then turn the whole thing into a sneaky roguelike by activating Iron Man mode. Die, or fail an objective, and the whole run comes to an end. Sounds like a perfect challenge for our Thief reviewer, Chris Thursten, who streamed the start of his Iron Man adventure last night. How did he get on? The video is here.
Thief – the series – has been many things. It is the grandfather of stealth on the PC, part of a design heritage that links Quake to System Shock 2, System Shock 2 to Deus Ex, and so on. It stands for the idea that ‘first person’ doesn’t imply ‘shooter’: the original BioShock might be its great-grandchild, but Amnesia and Gone Home are Thief’s descendents too.
It is the actualisation of a very specific fantasy – the outlaw shadow, Robin Hood by way of Batman – and more broadly representative of a particular type of fantasy, a gothic marriage of Hexen’s para-medieval grotesquerie and ’90s-era steampunk. For some players, Thief is about precision – perfect sequences of evasion and distraction forged with much hammering of the quick load key. For others, it’s a game of improvisation, gambits, brawls and hair’s breadth escapes.
For many, it’s about atmosphere. The sense of being an intruder. The latent threat of an Auldale mansion at night, the mysteries of an underground city, the terrors of The Cradle. Thief’s settings are a showcase for exemplary art and level design talent, a legacy that begins with Looking Glass Studios and ends with The Dark Mod, with the gaming community.