Truth be told, we have a sneaky suspicion that some of Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s dazzling shine may have rubbed off on Thief 4, hence going some way to explain why it’s done so well in this list. That’s not to say the series doesn’t have its partisans – by word does Thief have some anal fanatics – but the two titles have always been connected somewhat as a duo.
Both in production at Eidos Montreal, both sequels to insanely popular games from yesteryear, both having developer Ion Storm involved at some point (they developed part three); announcing the pair at the same time was something of a masterstroke on publisher Square Enix’s behalf. A real one-two punch, as positive feedback on one title was invariably associated with the other. “You see that new Deus Ex trailer?” “Yeah! And they’re making a new Thief, too!” Smart.
Unlike the aforementioned new Deus Ex, we’ve seen very, very little of the next Thief. Indeed, because of this particular fact, and considering it’s been some time since ole Garrett appeared nonchalantly on a castle wall, quiver stocked full of special arrows, we wouldn’t be surprised is some people hadn’t a clue what the hell Thief 4 is in the first place.
Predating Deus Ex, the Thief series ironically hit just after Metal Gear Solid, hence nearly earning itself the title of the first released 3D stealth game. Nearly, because that’s actually Tenchu’s honour. Subtitled “The Dark Project”, the debut chapter in the series appeared in the late 90s and instantly garnered what would become a loyal following. It was something different; a pensive, patient affair where players had to monitor their sound output and lurk in dense shadows or risk detection. It was these two variables, in fact, that dictated the flow of the game. Make too much sound and a guard will come running, or stray outside of the permitted illumination as determined by your light gauge, and you’re sprung.
Primarily it’s a “stealth fantasy series”, though fantasy is not the only genre that contributes to the franchise’s varied aesthetic, as there is a lot more going on here besides. Elements of steampunk and baroque imagery are peppered throughout the metropolis main protagonist Garrett traverses, with industrialisation evident in such things as the presence of electricity, albeit the technology presented as a weird blend of magic, alchemy and machinery.
“The Dark Project” was followed up with “The Metal Age” in 2000 and then 2004’s “Deadly Shadows”, which even made the jump to the Xbox. The sequels had varied success, with “Deadly Shadows” especially receiving the ire of many a Thief fan none too pleased with the direction the series had taken.
Stéphane D’Astous, Eidos-Montreal’s General Manager, has described the next entry, Thief 4, as “incredibly ambitious” and that it should make an appearance late next year. And that’s about all we know. If you’re a fan of the Assassin’s Creed games we definitely think Thief 4 should be on your radar.