This next gen version of Thief certainly has it's flaws but despite I did find myself enjoying it for the most part although yes there were moments that make me scream in agony.
Obviously I am exaggerating but so are the other people who have been complaining about this game. Naturally if you feel passionate about a franchise you won't accept some tinkering with gameplay mechanics that made you love the game in the first place. And Thief does change a little too much for the worse. In stealth games it is essential that you have more freedom to play as you see fit. That you are able to explore other routes or proceed to the next stage without being discovered or being forced to take out an enemy. Thief too often puts you into situations where you have little to no option to deal with it they way you see fit. There are these free running sequences that take you away from the core gameplay. All this time you are trying your best to stay unnoticed and achieve your goals only to have you running off with all these guards chasing you even if had disposed of all them before you got caught. Why would a master thief get caught? That simply does not happen. If it does then it should be game over and you should reload the game until you manage to avoid capture.
If you compare Thief to Thief: Deadly Shadows (the only other Thief game I played and liked) then Thief without a doubt has stripped or changed some elements considerably. For example you can't jump when you want to. Or climb when you want to. You have to wait until the game prompts you to do so. Getting through the world in Deadly Shadows was much more logical and made much more sense than the hub in Thief. Although once you figure out how to get to certain places it becomes easier. But then you are confronted with another annoying element. If you have dealt with some enemies on your way. You will find out that they have been replaced and that you need to deal with them again. If you just want to pass through then that can get on your nerves real fast. At one point I just blew some of them with my blast arrows or ran to wherever I needed to go since it is not actually required to go full stealth in between missions. Also if you hide long enough the alerted guards will carry on with patrolling like nothing happened. Oh and you will have to get used to these guards repeating the same dialogue over and over again.
There are two boss fights in this game and they both don't belong. Had I been equipped to do combat properly and had I equal chance to defeat them then maybe I could appreciate them. But is in these levels that you can see why some people have problems with the core mechanics. It is in these fights that the flaws are exposed. Your movement when you sneak is too slow. The swoop in theory compensated for this but at the same time does make more noise which kinda defeats the purpose of having such an ability. I am very well aware that the game then would be too easy but then the game designers would be forced to improve the stealth mechanics and offer challenge in other ways. I didn't like the final boss fight. One direct shot and you are dead. In order to get a good sense of your surroundings you literally have to take a chance and risk dying to see what is what. Logic wise and plot wise this fight does not make sense at all. First you do your best to assemble three stones to then have them disassembled again so that I need to assemble them a second time? Why? That is so cheap and unnecessary. Reward to get an ending that doesn't make sense and is very unsatisfying. Like: "Sorry but we could not think of a good ending. You are done with the game so bye bye, off with ya."
However if you can overlook all of this there is a lot of enjoyment to be had. The core stealth mechanics are good enough and fun. It always remains very satisfying to pass by guards stealthily or knock them out without others finding out you have done so. You still have to observe how the guards and other enemies are patrolling and how to get pass them. And you get more than enough equipment to do so. I think some levels (chapters) have been designed quite well. The brothel level and the asylum one certainly are highlights of the game. The asylum was seriously creepy and made good use of it's surroundings and atmosphere. I thoroughly enjoyed it how it managed to creep you out with so little.
The story sorry to say is rubbish. Not once did it compel me. It was just the context needed to tie together the levels. I got more enjoyment from reading letters or journals in the little side missions that in hindsight were far more creative and fun to play. Actually it is because of these side missions that I got really invested in this game. Besides completing these missions enabled you to earn money and thus upgrade your gear which does make life easier since otherwise your already limited options would even be more limited. After finishing the game I went back to Basso to see if he had more missions for me. But as turned out I apparently played them all. It would be very much appreciated if the developers would add more of them because I really really liked them. Figuring out how to reach windows that seemed unreachable was nice. Not all of them were logical because of the limitations when it came to climbing and jumping but that could not hurt my playing pleasure.
Overall I think Thief does offer a lot of fun in it's own right. But I do agree that if you would compare them to previous titles in the franchise they have made a lot of changes and mistakes that can be aggravating. Still the game does become more enjoyable if you leave the main story for what it is and try to do the side missions as much as possible. When you realize that stealing rewards you with more and better equipment it becomes even more fun to do these little missions in between. Enabling yourself to have more options in a game that basically limits you otherwise is a good thing. So I do recommend this game to the fans who love the stealth genre.
Reviews of other stealth based games: