‘Thief’ Review Roundup: Steals Time, But Not Hearts

Feb 24, 2014 by  

Thief 4 E3 Trailer

Given the success of Eidos Montreal‘s reboot of the Deus Ex series with Human Revolution, one might assume that the company’s next re-imagining of a classic series would be met with optimism. But since the day that Thief was announced, the game has had its doubters. Concerns for rebooting a beloved series (and introducing a new lead actor) are nothing new, but the fans seemed even more skeptical than normal – and that was even before word broke of the game’s troubled development.

Yet the developers maintained their resolve, responding to fan feedback by removing an XP system that awarded violence, not stealth, dropped QTEs, and released plenty of gameplay walkthroughs showing the game was up to snuff visually. But the message was clear from the start: Thief had an uphill battle ahead of it.

Now that the reviews have begun to roll in, fans can get a better sense of how justifiable their doubts really were. Does the game’s supernatural story help smooth out gameplay issues, and is the depth and customization satisfying for tactical gamers? Or is it clear in playing the game that it was hurried to completion before forming a complete vision? For the time being, it seems fans of Dishonored may want to hold off on Thief for now.

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EGM (Josh Harmon):

“As both a diehard fan of stealth games and someone who recently played through the original Thief games for the first time, it breaks my heart to say that this reboot does far more harm than if we’d gotten no new Thief at all… Be careful about bringing something long dead back to life, lest you create an abomination.”

Score: 3.5/10

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Joystiq (Ludwig Kietzmann):

“In its subtle moments, Eidos Montreal gives your creeping a sense of closeness and texture, in a game where you almost always have your nose pressed against things. Much like Garrett, Thief succeeds when it’s quiet, fingers reaching out and almost – almost – touching an irresistible spread of glittering prizes.”

Score: 4/5

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Polygon (Arthur Gies):

The loop that began as a satisfying exercise becomes more and more frayed. In the latter half of the game, when a glimpse of that openness was dangled in front of me once again, Thief snatched it away with murderous AI and controls that didn’t feel up to the challenge. The result is a game that doesn’t ever fully come together.”

Score: 6/10

Thief Alley Combat

Edge:

“Thief is far from the disaster that many feared it would be… Nevertheless, it’s still difficult to shake the feeling that, for all his dexterity, Garrett has stumbled in his attempt to gain access to a new generation.”

Score: 7/10

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Eurogamer (Simon Parkin):

“Whether the game simply needed more time or entirely different foundations is never quite clear. Either way, it’s a game that adds up to less than the sum of its parts. Undeniably, Thief suffers greatly by comparison to Dishonored – its more coherent, more thoughtfully and successfully designed cousin, in whose shadow Garrett and his game now cringe.”

Score: 6/10

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Gamespot (Kevin VanOrd):

“Whether you are new to the series or cut your teeth on Thief’s particular brand of stealth when it was still novel, I’d wager your feelings will waver as often as mine did… Garrett is not yet on his way out, but he’s been shown the door.”

Score: 6/10

Thief screenshot - Slide

Game Informer (Ben Reeves):

“Eidos-Montreal may have adhered too closely to the series’ roots, resulting in a reboot that suffers from classic problems like simplistic combat and trial-and-error sneaking missions. However, locked behind this old-school game design is a gem that stealth fans should eye up for their collection.”

Score: 8/10

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IGN (Dan Stapleton):

“Between the hit-or-miss missions is an extremely annoying city hub map and a weak story full of bland characters, and Garrett himself isn’t as sure-footed as a master thief ought to be. Ignoring the story and cherrypicking the best side missions is the best way to approach it.”

Score: 6.8/10

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Kotaku (Kirk Hamilton):

“It’s hard to know quite where to begin with a shambling mediocrity such as this. It’s a game that could have been great and is instead a lumpy, frumpy disappointment, outclassed on all sides by its contemporaries and struggling mightily for a foothold in a world that’s moved on to better things.”

Score: NO

Thief Gameplay Lockdown Mission

PC Gamer (Chris Thursten):

“This is a decent stealth game that feels nice to play, and that’ll be enough for many – and if you feared the worst, you can rest a little easier. But the thing about evading disaster is that sometimes greatness slips away too.”

Score: 79/100

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Destructoid (Chris Carter):

“The story and characters are somewhat forgettable, most of the missions are straightforward, and the locales tend to blend together after a while. Having said that, there’s a lot of potential here if you dig deep down into the game’s ingenious difficulty sliders and challenge modes. In that sense, Thief succeeds as a bold stealth game, despite its bruises.”

Score: 7.5/10

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What do you make of the reviews? Do the more scathing criticisms lessen your enthusiasm, or are you willing to find the solid game that seems to exist buried within Eidos Montreal’s reboot? Share your own thoughts in the comments, while we work to bring you our own review of Thief.

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Thief releases on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on February 25, 2014.

Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

5 Comments

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  1. i knew this game would disappoint. its the reason i never pre ordered.

    i knew from the gameplay that this would happen. oh well, i really need to replay dishonered anyway since i basted through it that weekend i got it. didnt have time then to really get into it

  2. Not surprised, unfortunately. :(

  3. I’m still going to buy it at some point and then I will judge it for myself. But without Stephen Russell voicing Garrett, I doubt I will ever accept this game as part of the series.

  4. As much as I agree this wasn’t the reboot we deserved, the original Thief games weren’t all that streamlined and playable in the first place. I rarely agree with Gameinformer, but they’re right in saying that it’s a more classic and far less popular game design by today’s standards, especially since people are expecting far more revolutionary gameplay innovations with next-gen systems. I’m at least am thankful they didn’t try to dumb things down in terms of gameplay to appeal to triple-A standards. As far as story is concerned, I never liked the stupid supernatural aspects. I play Thief to sneak around and steal stuff, so at least the reboot got that right, even if it is an aged gameplay mechanic. Plus, it’s been so long since the last game, I don’t think that they could have made it much differently without alienating their fans. Hitman: Absolution would have received far worse criticism if Blood Money didn’t ease the fanbase into the new gameplay systems, as well as make it more accessible to newcomers. If they had jumped from Contracts to Absolution they would have pissed everybody off, just like Thief has done. People are judging it harshly now, because it’s just a bad time to launch a game that took too long to get here in the first place.

  5. These aren’t bad reviews, and if anything it seems like diehard fans are disappointed it’s not the original. I’m more than excited to play it. People expect too much of reboots and it’ll never live up to the hype people will create. You need to look it as if it were a new IP and why it would succeed or not succeed as a completely new game. Most people can’t do that.

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