After 2011’s leaked concept art, I had high hopes for Thief 4. While the fandom was busily picking fault with a handful of sketches – “The angle of his right calf clearly indicates that Eidos are reimagining Thief as a racing game!” – I was getting my love on for the pretty, pretty possibilities.
Today, all those possibilities came together and danced for the pleasure of my fangirl heart. Look at this beautiful slice of game. If these screenshots were a woman, I would forgo the wine ‘n dine and head straight for the sheets. The only thing keeping me from smooching my monitor is that I know where it’s been.
One of the things I’m happiest with is Garrett’s design. Yeah, he’s kind of freakily pasty in the facial area – boy just doesn’t get enough sun – but there’s a sharpness to him that’ll blend seamlessly with Stephen Russell’s vocals[¹]. He’s all razor-sharp cheekbones and gaunt lines; delicate without being pretty. Be still, my bored-by-beefcake heart.
Running with the anti-beefcake theme: the wiry, flexible build they’ve gone for is equally fitting. Garrett’s never been particularly formidable in the fisticuffs department[²] and they’ve gone for a body-type that, while by no means weak, isn’t going to be roughhousing with the city guard anytime soon – dangerous, but not physically imposing. And this is good because you’re a sneaky motherfucker, not Boom Boom Mancini with a cloak and a larceny habit.
There’s something almost turbulent looking about the City, like it’s permanently in anticipation of a storm just waiting to break. The air looks chill and unfriendly and probably tastes faintly of tin. Nobody has pockets worth picking.
The City rooftops are reminiscent of Life of the Party without being a direct copy, while the general architecture would fit into Deadly Shadows with nary a ripple. It’s a nice way to maintain series cohesiveness, while not taking the easy route of reusing old designs. Thief 1’s trademark oddness is missing, but less than thirty screenshots isn’t enough to judge a game on and 2011’s leaked concept art – particularly the room filled with birdcages – indicate that the Eidos Montreal team get Thief. It’s something I wouldn’t have been surprised to come across in Constantine’s mansion, and I’ve got my fingers crossed it’ll appear in the finished game.
While there’s no actual horror popping up in these pictures (yet), there is some serious eeriness going on. The inside of the clock tower with its immense, chill face has a sense of stillness to it – almost graveyard-like. It looks like a place where you could wind yourself into a fever-pitch of paranoia, while the designers insert the odd spooky noise and giggle to themselves.
I have Opinions on Thief and horror – namely, that they are meant to be games with fucking horror levels and yes, I’m looking at you, Thief 2 – so the sooner they give me the goods on that the happier I’ll be. Until then, there’s nothing to indicate an absence of horror so I’ll sit here and think optimistic thoughts because hey, some Thief fan has to. We filled our Dour Doom-Mongering Naysayer quota fast, and I was late to the party.
One thing that is getting on my tits is the complaints about the compound bow. You just don’t like it? Great! I’m a little concerned by Garrett’s out-of-control eyebrows. We all have things we don’t like. No, what bugs me is the claim that it looks ‘too modern’.
Are you shitting me? The ancient Greeks made mechanical men. Stone Age people went flint-mining with makeshift explosives. A culture verging on full industrialisation should have no problem with a fucking compound bow. I know it’s a couple tech steps above fully operational mechanical body parts, but this is fantasy. Let’s stretch our imaginations.