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Thief hands-on: meeting Erin, Garrett's troublesome shadow

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Garrett doesn't need a sneaking sidekick. I don't need a sneaking sidekick. Stealth is a solitary adventure. Characters come and go for the sake of narrative and theater, but when it's time to get down to the dance of detection, they're left behind. For good reason: nothing gets me to hit “Quit” faster than a wayward ally barging into a carefully planned route, or blowing my position with the umpteenth complaint of “C'mon, we gotta move!

And so, when I was given the opportunity to experience the introductory sequences of Thief and meet Garrett's protégé Erin for the first time, I could already feel a sneer forming. I had doubts—Garrett had broken his professional partnership with her for Mysterious Reasons. In my mind, she was already a nuisance. When I heard the first few tense exchanges between her and Garrett, however, I realized her qualities symbolized an important facet of the stealth genre—her aggressive, confrontational style shows just how varied approaches to stealth can be.

Starting a new game handed me an easy grab-and-bag as part of a linear tutorial on basic thievery. I found myself in a quiet wooden attic. Dust motes filtered through the soft glow of an evening sun peeking through board slats and narrow windows. Birdcages hung haphazardly from the ceiling in dark chains, their feathery occupants eyeing me with beady looks. The whole thing looked like a crude obstacle course, which it definitely was, but I suppose slamming a “Don't Make Noise” sign in my face wouldn't be as subtle.