Garrett: A Character Study of Thief’s Protagonist
With all the hubbub about Thief and it’s gameplay and whether it really retains the Thief feel it feels to me like everyone is beginning to forget an important aspect of the upcoming remake/reimagining of the series; Garrett himself.
It might just be me, but with the scant amounts of information that’s been released so far for the game, I can’t help but feel that they’re going to turn him into someone that I cannot recognise. “When the city that created and defines him is threatened; Garrett must step from the shadows and uncover the truth before his world is torn apart forever,” reads the latest press release, and it seems to foreshadow some pretty uncomfortable changes in his personality.
It’s important to understand that Garrett isn’t a hero. He’s not the good guy, hell, he’s not even halfway decent. Garret has one and only one motivation for all the things that he does, which is preservation of Garrett.
If you examine all of his heists, all of his actions and all of his monologues, you can see that even the altruistic-seeming deeds were done in the name of greed.
Garrett does not care for truth; he doesn’t care for the various factions within the city, or their motives. The only thing that concerns Garrett is how he’s going to get his next meal, and paying his rent. Take this example; Early in the first game, he breaks into a Hammerite prison (the Hammerites are a faction of religious fanatics) in order to rescue his fence, Cutty, who’s been captured.
At first glance, it may seem like an act of friendship, loyalty and trust. In truth, the only reason, he did it was because he’d just been on a job to steal a particular artifact that could not be sold without Cutty’s assistance.
Another ‘friend’ of Garrett’s is Basso the Boxman, a skilled arsonist and lock pick. In the first game, he was in a similar situation as Cutty – locked in a cell. The only reason Garret rescued him was because he was interested in getting ‘intimate’ with Basso’s sister.
There is one moment in the third game in which it may seem like Garrett really does not have a heart of stone, but it a purely player-dependent, optional choice. There is a mission where you need to raid the mansion of a sea captain in order to find a special key.
You come across the widow of the captain, and find out that the poor thing has lost her wits with grief (she thinks you’re the maid or Butler or something).
She idly mentions to you that she’s very thirsty, as the mansion staff has not allowed her any wine for fear she might try to hurt herself, and if the player chooses they can pick up a wine bottle from elsewhere in the house and drop it next to her in what seems like a purely altruistic action.
Turns out however, that doing this causes her to ramble about a ‘secret message’ her husband left her that reveals the location of the key you’re looking for. Doesn’t help his cause that, on his way out, he takes off with the captains savings, ensuring that the widow loses her fortune, her house and quite likely her life.
I think we can count on one hand all the people that Garrett might have a modicum of respect for and still have several fingers left over. The only person I can think of without a shadow of a doubt that Garrett considers as an ally is Artemus, his old mentor from when he was being trained as a Keeper.
Garrett keeps Artemus at arm’s length, but he is aware of the fact that his old mentor would never seek to harm him. This trust eventually comes back to bite him and almost spells his doom in the third game, Thief: Deadly Shadows (which I will not spoil).
Don’t get me wrong, I love Garrett. I love his character and his personality and I was so goddamn broken hearted when I found out Stephen Russell would not be voicing him in the reboot. I’m still eager to play the game, but I can’t help but wring my hands with anxiety and hope they keep Garrett… Garrett.