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'Thief' Review: Stealing Time, Not Hearts

Garrett is a thief with an eye for gold who finds himself entangled in a paranormal conflict — and an average, unambitious game.

Art, graphics, sound and conclusion

Art and Graphics

From the city slums to the wealthy mansions, the set pieces of "Thief" are elaborately designed, and well-worth examining for their own sake as you prowl about them on your missions.

As expected of a next-generation video game, "Thief" has sharp, visually engaging graphics. The game's simulation of light and fire is particularly excellent; it creates striking contrast in the dark streets and illuminates the beautifully textured surfaces, as well as plays a central role in the game's mechanics.

MORE: The Tech Challenges to Photorealistic Games

Some of the peripheral animations don't look quite as good. Cloth moves particularly strangely, sometimes jiggling and bouncing as characters move. A few other environmental animations, such as turning wheels can seem choppy.

Sound and Audio

The audio elements all serves to create a rich soundscape that both immerses players in the game's world and helps them successfully play the game. Usually, when you hear music in "Thief" it means you've been spotted by the guards and the chase is on. Sound is used mostly as a means of communicating gameplay: the music hums when you're exposed in the light and pounds when you're spotted. Broken glass crunches when you walk across it, locks click when you fail to pick them. With a good sound system, the game's sound complements and enhances its visuals and mechanics.


As a thief, Garrett has to tread lightly. But as a game, "Thief" could have done with taking a bolder step. Though the gameplay can be fun and challenging, as an overall experience it felt unambitious, and left us feeling dissatisfied.

It's hard to criticize a game for failing to be exceptional, but "Thief" is so roundly average that it's also hard to praise it.  If you have the time and money and are looking for a new game, "Thief" is a perfectly good choice. But it's more likely to steal your time than your heart.

  • Sneaking unseen through levels crowded with enemies is always fun.
  • Story switches ambivalently between first and third person.
  • Beautiful light physics and textures.
  • Garrett lacks personality and conviction.
  • Lots of challenges and playstyles.
  • Combat is sometimes stilted and never innovative.
  • Developer: Eidos Montreal

    Publisher: Square Enix

    Genre: First-Person Stealth

    Price: $59.99

    Release Date: Feb. 25, 2014

    Platforms: Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC and Steam.

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