The Thief franchise of games popularized and defined the stealth action adventure, starting with the first one Thief: The Dark Project back in 1998.
The gameplay of this title was fairly straight-forward by modern standards. Players were given control of Garrett, a master burglar in a steampunk fantasy world. Each level – this was back when most games still had distinct levels – would present the player with a specific goal, like ‘steal the diamond candelabra from this giant mansion’.
The player could then go about getting that goal completed in whatever way they desired. This was the revolutionary aspect. It was not a role-playing game, per say, but it allowed a lot of freedom of choice. You could run through the mansion killing everyone you meet, leaving a trail of bodies behind your departure with the treasure, you could sneak past everyone and exit undetected, or some combination of the two.
Sure, it seems simple now, but that’s only because a whole genre of games have been modeled off of the formula that originated with Thief: The Dark Project, from Assassin’s Creed to Deus Ex toFar Cry to a dozen other major and minor titles which allow the player to meet specific goals with broad choices of tactic.
The following Thief games opened the world a bit, removing the level divisions and incorporating more role-playing elements, while deepening the setting, but the last one to make it to release was the third game Thief: Deadly Shadows nearly a decade ago. The company which made the games Looking Glass Studios (which by movement of developers became Ion Storm for the third game) is disbanded now, and Eidos, the publisher of the franchise, has had the project in its hands for a long time with no progress. Thief 4 has been on their ‘coming eventually’ list for all this time.
We recently learned via GameInformer that the new game has been retitled Thief, and like several other franchises in the industry currently, it is being rebooted for a new generation of machines and gamers.
The character of Garrett returns, and it seems that the plot is intended to take place after Deadly Shadows, but it’s the beginning of a new franchise with its own feel and function. Eidos’s goal is to make a game that works like our modern expectations of a stealth action adventure, but also retains the feeling of the classic Thief games.
This video interview with the development team talks a bit about the project, but mostly about what will be revealed when the next issue of GameInformer hits the stands.
No release date has yet been announced for Thief. Perhaps the relevant info will be in the April GameInformer issue which is slated to hit newsstands later this month.