When Thief 4…I mean, Thief was unveiled after a long, long, long time of hype, it was amazing to note the overall structure of the game. A world ravaged by plague and kept in a kind of police state under someone who wields absolute power while the shadowy Garrett pursues his own agenda – but doesn’t that sound a little familiar? It immediately brought to mine Arkane Studios’ Dishonored, a tight little action-stealth game that emphasized the rewards and challenge of sneaking through and lethally disarming your enemies versus going on a total massacre. So it leads to the question: If the new Thief can be inspired by games like Assassin’s Creed, why not do a few things that Dishonored does as well?
Here’s our top 5 list for things that Thief could learn from Dishonored. Keep in mind that no one is assuming knowledge of how Thief actually is; just scratching our heads and asking “Wouldn’t that be cool if”.
5. True Freedom of Choice
Assassin’s Creed gives you that unique feeling of taking several different routes to reach your objective – this is often dressed as “several different ways to complete your objective”. Rest assured they’re two different things. It just feels like taking a bunch of different roads to reach a junction point rather than all roads eventually leading to your final objective.
In Dishonored, this is reinforced by way of the powers you obtain. In the second mission for instance, you could possess a guard and walk through the Wall of Light unscathed. Or maybe use Blink and just traverse great distance. At different points, you could possess a rat and then enter into an area completely undetected. And along the way, you can either take a detour and check out side-quests or collect Runes. There’s choice, and variety – no two roads truly feel the same.
Thief features the ability to vault over different objects and obstacles, and while it may not have Dishonored’s magical abilities, it would be great if there were various ways to complete an objective, rather than various ways to reach a point from where your objective begins. Knowing the variety of things that can be stolen, they present an excellent reward for taking an unknown route while trying to complete an objective.
4. The Silent Protagonist
Yes, we get it. The protagonist shouldn’t be quiet because it’s not “realistic”. But that’s not the point of the trope – it’s about involving you in the game. I don’t yell at my fellow gamers for their corruption of Corvo throughout Dishonored when they take the route of mass murder – I yell at them for corrupting the city around them and most importantly, Emily.
Because the player is Corvo – the setting and characters are extensions of Corvo’s actions. But throughout the game, you feel inextricably linked to him and believe that every action is yours, not Corvo’s.
This fits even better with Garrett. He’s not someone who’s out to do the greater good – his quest is motivated by riches. He’s a thief and he only cares about himself – by that extension, the gamer cares more about his own survival first, and then whether his actions are doing the world good.
3. Variety in Actions
Dishonored feels so simple at first but the number of toys you have to play with is immense. It’s not even about the upgrades that can be obtained or slowing down time while blowing your enemies away and setting them on fire in mid-air before restarting time and watching them burn.
It’s about how you use those toys in your own way to do things that other people wouldn’t think of, like utilizing Blink in mid-air to more quickly remove threats by murder or knockout, or even exposing different areas of the environment containing plague carrying rats to enemies.
Thief needs that variety and thankfully, it’s been a trademark of the series since the beginning. From the sound of new additions like Focus Mode and the improved combat, it looks like Eidos Montreal has this part sewn up. Let’s also not forget that they’ve worked on Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Variety isn’t that tough for them to accomplish.
2. A Unique World
The world of Dunwall was interesting because it felt new and above all else, real. This is the advantage of having the art director who brought us Half Life 2’s City 17 on your side, but in all honesty, the elements seen in Dishonored could have been disheveled and awkward. It’s to the game’s credit that it melds them all together. It lets you get as close to the world as you want, and still offers plenty more to see when you’re done. Best of all, how you act affects how the world evolves.
Thief has the opportunity to do the same. The world is fairly new and enough time has lapsed for Eidos Montreal to craft a completely new setting and atmosphere for Garrett to be immersed in.
1. Simple Yet Full of Depth
Honestly, this is what made Dishonored such a blast to play. Navigating environments was a joy. Sneaking around brothels and just taking out guards was easy. Combat was exhilarating without feeling overwhelming or easy. You could do as much or as little of the game as you wanted. You could take it slow or play it as a straight up action game. The more you immersed yourself, the more challenging things got – and unless you felt immersed in the world, there is no way you’d go to the trouble one must go through to save it.
Thief is still a ways off from release and thankfully hasn’t garnered the buzz of being a “next generation” title like most other games have. It has a ton of momentum to ride off of but if it wants to succeed, it needs to be able to break free from its niche while still inviting players to partake in it. And there’s no better example of how to do this than with Dishonored.