Anti-heroes can be difficult to write, but one way to immediately make them more sympathetic is simply by making sure that they’re the least evil character in the room. Garrett, the protagonist of the Thief series, lives in a city that seems to be largely occupied by despots, bullies and snobs, and by comparison he’s actually quite the charmer.
In Eidos Montreal’s Thief reboot, the developers are introducing an Elmer Fudd to Garrett’s Roger Rabbit in the form of the Thief Taker General: a bounty hunter who earns his coin by stringing up the petty thieves of the City, and who finds himself with a new challenge when the master thief strolls back into town. The Thief Taker General is the subject of the third “Stories from the City” trailer for Thief, in which he opines about his trade and his pursuit of Garrett. It would have been nice if he’d done this in the form of a Disney-style villain song, but perhaps they’re saving that for the game.
Despite ostensibly representing the law, the Thief Taker General is a dab hand at thieving himself. He sets up a system of extortion in which members of the criminal underworld have to pay a ‘black tax,’ and failing to pay up will leave them dangling from a noose. With a mysterious disease known as ‘The Gloom’ claiming many more lives of the City’s citizens, the Thief Taker General also runs an operation wherein their corpses are stripped of anything valuable – from gold teeth to artificial limbs – putting yet more money in his pocket.
As the description suggests, the Thief Taker General is almost cartoonishly evil, but he may not even be the primary villain of Thief. There’s also the Baron, the tyrannical leader who rules the City with an iron fist; there’s Orion, the revolutionary with whom Garrett is collaborating, who seems primed for a backstabbing plot twist; there’s the Queen of Beggars, who seems to be more of an oracle-type character but could easily have a Granny Rags moment; finally, there’s Garrett’s apprentice Erin, who “died” by falling into a mysterious magical light and therefore has approximately an 87% chance of returning with superpowers.
Thief hits shelves in a fortnight after a long, troubled and rather controversial development process, but we’re staying hopeful that Eidos-Montreal has what it takes to bring this classic stealth series back to the top.
Thief arrives on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on February 25, 2014.