Long in development and officially revealed to the gaming press back in 2009, it looks as if 2013 is the year when Thief 4 finally leaves the shadows of developer secrecy and is presented in all its stealthy glory for all to see.
Eidos Montreal’s long in development reboot of the famed franchise graced the covers of the April edition of Game Informer Magazine, let’s look at what has been revealed about the game so far.
Thief 4 is the reinterpretation of the thief franchise where players take the role of a thief that prefers to undertake the mission at hand in total secrecy. The series is a classic that defined the first-person stealth genre and the gaming system where the player is required to infiltrate heavily fortified areas, dealing with guards, soldiers and other obstacles, all the while scurrying in shadows and remaining unnoticed.
The series’ main protagonist; Garret, the master thief, returns to the gothic environments of Thief 4 where he has to traverse the industrial metropolis known as; the City, which is broiling with social unrest due to the onset of the plague as well as the political tyrant only known as; the Baron.
According to the magazine, Game Informer was shown a lengthy gameplay demo of Thief 4 by Eidos Montreal.
Garret and the city:
The demo opens with Garret returning to the city after long absence and finding a “city of melting possibilities”. The tyrant known as Baron controls the city with militarized watch and only affords good fortune to the wealthy.
As Garret travels via a covered wagon in the Stonemarket district, he observes guards harassing people over small civil disputes and the piles of plague ridden corpses littered in street corners, all the while, rich people stroll across the street accompanied by their personal guards.
However Garret is purely motivated by the thrill of the theft rather that any sense of altruism and sees the oppressive elite merely as opportunity to get rich.
Garret listens in on two guards, who are speaking about a wealthy man called Theodore Eastwick. Eastwick is an architect who was commissioned by Baron to build city’s gothic structures. The guards mention that Eastwick would be at the House of Blossoms, a pleasure house, which is situated on the other side of the city, an area for elite.
As the gates to the area close at Midnight, Garret makes his way in the establishment. The on screen dark tint highlights the fact that Garret is safe and hidden as he crouches behind the crates.
He throws a bottle to distract the guards and climbs atop of the building by scaling a pipe.
Garret races across the rooftops, over merchant tables and under wagons and dives through a nearby building window. Garret notices Eastwick as he makes his way through the secret entrance to the House of Blossoms, and Garret follows him into the building undetected.
The interior of House of Blossoms is rich with patrons and scantily clad women who are flirting with their customers. A transvestite named Xiao Xiao is seen greeting the guests. Garret loses sight of his target as Eastwick moves forward in the crowd.
Meanwhile, Xiao Xiao notices that there is more security than usual and says that anyone can store their valuables in his office strongbox. This catches Garret’s interest as he wishes to get his hands on whatever resides inside that strongbox.
Using Xiao Xiao’s logbook, Garret determines where Eastwick has gone however he decides to open the strongbox via a lock-picking mini game. However, before he is able to unlock it, Xiao Xiao enters the office and Garret is forced to roll into a darkened corner. Having successfully avoided Xiao Xiao’s sight, he leaves Xiao clueless about the attempted theft.
As Xiao Xiao leaves, Garret is able to resume opening the strongbox where he finds a jewel-encrusted heirloom. Garret tries to leave by the office door, however he finds that Xiao Xiao is just outside the room, talking to one of his girls. Garret is thus forced to discover a hidden passage to depart from Xiao Xiao’s office.
Using House of Blossom’s network of backdoors, Garret is able to find a way to the Eastwick’s room. He enters and steals a medallion and then uses his Focus ability to see a blue-energy symbol written on the wall which corresponds to the runes on the medallion he holds.
Barret turns the bands of the medallion to match them with the symbol causing the medallion to light up with similar blue energy. The four adjacent rooms also show symbols. When the last symbol is locked the medallion starts to spin.
Meanwhile, Eastwick notices that he has been robbed and calls for help, prompting Xiao Xiao to order his guards to search the house.
As the guards search rooms, Garret heads down to the backrooms of the pleasure house. Taking into account an earlier conversation he overheard between service girls, about a past event where the ventilation shaft had once accidentally over flowed with opium.
Garret reenacts that event by dumping the house’s stock of opium into the ventilation system. This sends everyone in the House of Blossoms into a deep sleep. However Garret now has to hold his breath and move quickly through the opium haze.
Along his way he gets circled by three guards, requiring Garret to retreat back into the opium fog. Garret uses his bow to fire an arrow at a statue hanging above the door; unhinging it and making it fall down and crushing the two guards. However, the last guard get a drop on him and pins Garret to the wall.
Garret then enters Focus mode, allowing him to grab the guard’s arm, jerk it behind his shoulder, and send the guard crashing into the floor. Upon his freedom, Garret grapples onto a vent and makes his escape down the sewers.
As was the case in previous games, Garret has to take the stealthy approach. He is no fighter and cannot handle confrontation with four or more guards in a hand-to hand combat situation.
On the other hand, guards and NPCs are aware of the area they reside. They understand the landscape of the level and thus are aware of area that might be good for a thief to hide in. Therefore Different NPCs will look for Garret in different ways.
While a navigation beacon lets the players know about the direction of the next target, players are encouraged to explore their environments as the levels house multiple routes via which the player can enter and exit each room.
Players are also able to employ several different approaches to achieve their objective in a stealthy manner.
The aforementioned ‘Focus approach’ plays are crucial role in the new game and has multiple uses for the players. It can be used to highlight interactive objects or climbable pipe and candles that can be dowsed. It can be used to slow down time and swipe three times as many items during the pickpocketing process. It can also be used to display different attack areas on an enemy.
These areas can be exploited to do a quick push to the enemy thereby buy Garret more time to dash into the shadows. These attack areas can also be comboed together to debilitate the enemy.
While every drawer in the game can be accessed by the player, the game employs a Fingerprint system, which hints at which drawers contain useful things and this are the best ones to look into.
At the end of each mission, Garret is able to spend the money that he stole to upgrade his equipment. Moreover Garret can also decorate his hideout with various artifacts that are spread out across each level of the game for the player to find.
Weapons and Equipment:
As mentioned in the demo description, Garret is able to utilize several different tools and equipment to aid his thieving schemes across areas filled with enemies and traps. Following are the four tools that were confirmed in the demo:
Blackjack: Garret can use the blackjack to knock out the enemy when he has snuck up behind the target and is close enough to hit them with the club.
Bow: Not only can it be used against targets that are out of his reach, the bow can also be used outside of combat. Garret is able to fire arrows at objects and either unhinge them or make a noise that will serve as a distraction to lure the patrolling guards to that point.
Specialty Arrows: Garret is also able to get his hands on special arrows, each with a different use. The ones like dry-ice arrows can the employed to snuff far away flames whereas the smoke-starter arrow is useful for creating distractions.
Claw: Aside from normal weapons, Garret also has his trusty claw device which he can use to grapple onto certain points in the game’s large levels.
Release date and Platforms:
While a set date has not been announced, Eidos Montreal has stated that the game will get released in 2014 and would be available for PC, PS4 and other next-gen consoles.