The mansion is large, with multiple methods to enter and paths through the building, and plenty of tools and freedom, but the moments where the pacing shifts aim to make you feel powerful by forcing you through a single viable path. It's the opposite of why I play PC games, and the antithesis of why I think Thief is such a defining game for us. However brief, the climbing section – and a similarly constrained escape from a series of burning buildings – were the low points of my playtime.
Things look up when I reach the end of the mission, and the game rates me on my performance. There's ratings for whether or not I ghosted the mission without being spotted (haha, no), and for whether I did it without killing anyone (nope, no way). The new additions are concessions to mass-market appeal, but they're separate enough that the core of Thief is untainted.
“There is a challenge with the diversity of the audience,” says Schmidt. “Ask someone today to play the original Thief games, and it's going to be a challenge to really get into its patterns before you start enjoying it. So the way that we address it is we make sure that you have options, and difficulty settings.”
Those options include an 'old school mode', which ups the difficulty, turns off the UI helpers and entirely removes Garrett's new Focus abilities. Daniel even makes it sound like this is the real experience they want to provide, calling it 'more immersive'. “We're not balancing the game with Focus in mind, we're balancing it without. I don't think that's something that people are aware of, but Focus is the player's fallback, not the level designers'.”
I'll be turning off that fallback when I play. I'd turn off the more linear parts of the game too if I could, but when it means that for 50 minutes of an hour I'm playing Thief again, these few concessions to the mass market are a victimless crime.
“We won't be able to make everybody happy,” says Daniel. “That's just reality. If we make this guy happy, then this guy is going to be pissed off, and vice versa. If all people have to complain about is details like that, then we're pretty happy, because that means that the core is not broken.”