E3 2013: Narrative Director Steven Gallagher Steps Out Of the Shadows With Thief
Thief is due out in 2014 and, after watching Eidos Montreal Narrative Director Steven Gallagher show off the game during E3 last week, it's easy to see why the game, ahem, stole the show for so many media and industry members.
On lockdown in the middle of the Square Enix booth, the behind-closed-doors showing of Thief featured a large section of gameplay. The city is rising up against the local Barron and, while the set to storming his mansion, Garret plans to use the opportunity to break in and steal an item known as The Heart of the Lion.
“This is a reinvention of the classic Thief franchise, not a prequel or sequel,” Gallagher explained.
And with that, the show was up and running.
“All of our levels feature mutliple ways to approach them,” Gallagher said. “You can be stealthy or more aggressive. For the purposes of our demo, we're going to stick to the stealth a bit more.”
While exploring the world in first-person, a black fade around the edges of the screen serves to let the player know they are concealed by the shadows and thus invisible to the guards. The chap playing the demo used a water arrow to snuff out a light, distracting one guard, and used another one to do the same thing in another location, this time simply giving him some new shadows to move through.
The player has a ridiculous number of thief skills at their disposal, all of which have been given plenty of ways to serve Garret nicely in this particular level. One of these abilities is called focus, and it features a variety of uses, including slowing down time to land a perfect show, making lock picking easier and hearing the footfalls of guards that are just out of sight.
There's also a nifty “swoop” ability, which allows you to move from shadow to shadow more quickly. This also comes in handy when you want to sneak up on a guard and pick their pocket. While most will provide you with a few coins, others might have a key that leads to an otherwise unavailable room or even a handy map of the current area.
That focus ability we were just talking about also highlights items of interest, whether it be loot, traps or alternate routes. Garret can also throw items to distract guards, peek through keyholes and use his trusty rope arrow to reach higher ground. Listening in on unsuspecting guards is also a good use of your time, as their banter might occasionally lead you to additional treasures or routes where they've forgotten to post a sentry.
Without spoiling the process by which Garret obtains The Heart of the Lion, what follows is a quick escape sequence that has our thief trying to get out of the house undetected while it burns down around him. The camera actually shifts to a third-person perspective for some of the climbing sections, allowing the player to shimmy and leap a la the Uncharted series.
There's a lot going on here, leading me to believe that the team at Eidos Montreal wanted to give the player as many cool tools as possible, as well as many reasons to use them as they could cram into a single level. While running for your life, you learn that the job of a thief is never done. You'll have to weigh cost versus reward in some of these escape sequences, deciding on the fly if that locked jewelry box in the corner is worth the extra time it will take you to get out of a crumbling building.
Based on this single level, it looks like Thief aims to reward creativity and exploration, giving the player lots to experience and multiple ways to do so. Look for it sometime next year for the PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
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