Top critical review
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An infuriating waste of potential
on 30 July 2014
I finally got around to finish this game and decided to make a review.
This game is by no means unplayable, but it has a number of issues that makes it difficult to enjoy. Furthermore the fact that Square Enix are willing publish a game in this scrambled state can only be interpreted as a sign of disrespect towards their customer base.
The game has a number of major issues and if you cannot look past those you will not find any enjoyment in this game. So let's get started:
1) The sound system is broken: The first few minutes I played the game, the sound kept dropping in and out during cut scenes, and that turned out to be a recurring problem throughout the entire game. Sometimes all speech will just vanish and the only indication that someone should have been talking is the rapid flashes of subtitles at the bottom of the screen. The loudness of footsteps and voices almost never has anything to do with how close enemies are to you. Sometimes you cannot hear what people are saying right in front of you because of another conversation taking place behind two walls, down on the street, around the corner. Enemies will often start a new sentence before they are finished with the first. There are MANY more small issues with the sound but let's just say that the sound is broken.
2) Almost everything you can do is animated and contextual: Whenever you interact with the environment the game will take control away from you for a few frustrating seconds while you see the same animation over and over again of Garret grabbing something or opening/closing something. This became really infuriating when the game gets confused about what you want to do. Sometimes I would try hitting a wall/crate close to guards in order to create a distraction, the game assumed I was trying to hit the guard on the opposite site of the wall and would transport me straight through my cover, into a lit room so that I would hit the guard, alerting everything close by and forcing me to load an earlier save. Sometimes the guards have to wait until the animation is done before they can do anything, so they will stand idle by, while their friends gets taken down by the over long take-down-animation. Furthermore all jumping and climbing are contextual and done with the same button that allows you to run. This means that even though something might look climbable it most likely is not. You can only climb and jump on the places where the designer intended you to do so, so whether you will jump off a ledge and onto the platform in front of you or just plummet to your death is something you will learn through trail and error.
3) The quality of the characterization, the story and the writing is embarrassingly poor: Don't play this game if you want a gripping narrative or engaging characters.
4) You cannot have multiple save files and the game is filled with points-of-no-return: You can only have one save file and the auto-save function use the same file. Sometimes you will be scouting around for loot and by accident happen upon a point-of-no-return and the game will then immediately auto-save and prevent you from going back and picking up any loot you might have missed. Your only choice is to replay the chapter.
6) The game is very linear: I don't need an open world, but I would like some freedom in a game like this. The game feels restrictive and you don't really get the sense that you are making any decisions, just following the intended path.
5) The game does not seem confident in its own concept: *SPOILERS* This became clear when I found myself in a empty, haunted insane asylum. Here I had to pick up a lot of notes and journal entries about how scary this place is and all the awful experiments the doctors performed on the patients. Wheelchairs would move around on their own, I would hear voices and sometime see bodies on the floor, that would vanish the next second. It felt out of place and I got the feeling the developers were desperately grasping at straws. This became even more evident when Garrett would speak in a deep growling voice (yes like Batman) to show he meant business. *END OF SPOILERS*
If you can look past the design flaws, the inane characters, the stupid plot and the outright broken aspects of the game (I don't blame you if you can't) then you might still find some enjoyment in this game:
1) Some of the stealth mechanics are great: The way lightning and shadows work are fantastic. I love how you can really use the environment and the shadows to your advantage when you sneak around
2) Close combat sucks: Some might think this is not a good thing but in this game I think it is. Garrett is not a soldier, assassin or mercenary, he is petty thief who pretty much just steals anything that looks shiny. Garrett is not supposed to take on heavy armed, well-trained, professional soldiers. If you have to take on enemies your best chance is to shoot them from a distance or sneak up on them and take them down from behind.
3) When the game manages to let go of its stupid plot it becomes almost fun: When the game is just about some guy sneaking around in buildings, stealing almost anything he can get his hands on, then the game becomes almost enjoyable. Unfortunately this is only a small part of the game and not really the primary focus.
At times I get the feeling this game desperately wants to be Dishonored, which is great! Dishonored is a good game and taking inspiration from what other people did right is a wise strategy, and it's only fair considering how much Dishonored borrowed from the original Thief games. But it seems the developers have no idea what it is that makes Dishonored a good game. Thief is in many ways an insulting game and I guess it should be infuriating. But when I finally finished the game I had long since stopped caring. I would not recommend this game to anyone, simply because there are other games out there that does it better.