Platform: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Australian classification: MA15+
In a good stealth game a level ends in one of two ways: either you’re sneaking out, job complete, and nobody knows you were even there, or you’re piss-bolting for the exit while the alarm rings, chased by every single guard. Either one is satisfying. Quiet or noisy, it’s your actions that created the situation; a story you own.
That was how the original Thief games worked, but this reboot of the series has less faith in you. Missions frequently build to a cutscene in which you watch this new version of master thief Garrett do something exciting, and then get thrown into a contrived, artificial climax. You might be trapped in a small, dark area with guards on high alert like a predator sequence from the Batman: Arkham games, or chased across rooftops by dogs, or dumped into a boss fight. It’s as if Thief doesn’t trust you to enjoy yourself unless it’s showing off.
Those are how Thief’s story chapters play out, but there are also optional missions to discover and that’s where it’s at its best. Away from all the cutscenes, bland dialogue, and a plot that wastes its most interesting ideas a better stealth game is hiding in the shadows.