Thief The Dark Project is a majestically dark masterpiece. It's that dark gem that lies at the heart of video gaming, and much like the titular character would steal it, it stole our hearts back in 1998 and continues to do so. Why is this? Simply put, Thief was, and continues to be, a ground breaking game. It's use of ambient sounds, a haunting and wonderfully gothic soundtrack, unpredictable A.I, ingenious weapons and complex levels which allow you to make you own way towards your objectives make Thief stand out even today. First a story summary.
The story is set in a gigantic city called... well. The City. In the City there are 3 factions- the Keepers, the Hammerites and the Pagans. The Keepers seek to maintain the power balance within the City and prevent anarchy, the Hammerites worship The Builder, a God-like being who brought civilisation and technology to the world and they enforce law and order within the City, sometimes with a brutal hand. The Pagans are nature-loving primitives and technophobes who worship the Trickster, the antithesis to The Builder, whose goal is to revert the world to a primitive state.
Into this world steps Garrett, the protagonist. An orphan who is discovered on the streets by the Keepers, he is trained in their ways and excels in all areas. However, he disagrees with the Keeper's meddling nature (although this is never directly stated), and leaves the organisation because of this. He then uses the skills he learned to become a thief, and he excels in this profession as well, becoming a master thief in the process.
Garrett is a fascinating character and one of the greatest video game characters in history. Despite the relative lack of knowledge we learn about him through the course of the Thief trilogy, his sarcastic remarks, contempt for nearly everyone around him and gravelly voice make him positively endearing. He is a rogue, and not above cutting a man down where he stands to get to that bowl of rubies. However he is nevertheless, an underdog. And people love an underdog.
Playing as Garrett is an equally interesting affair. In comparision to many first-person games of the time, you are not an unstoppable juggernaught who slaughters enemies in their hundreds, who picks up a health pack every 5 seconds along with armour, not to mention plenty of ammo and weapons. You are a thief, and are therefore not a fighter. The game does a wonderful job of immersing you in the role of the character. Garrett moves awkwardly, is not by any means agile, can barely run and swings a sword with all the elegance of a gorilla clubbing a zookeeper to death with a massive rock. He also can take about as much damage as a peach, and every blow you sustain will hit with the force of a small moon due to Garrett's relative frailty. In short, combat is, for the most part, a no-go.
Luckily, Garrett is unmatched at avoiding combat and moving like a shadow through foreboding environments. This is what Thief is all about- avoiding combat. In higher difficulties, you will have no choice but to avoid combat altogether. Sure the game gives you a sword, a blackjack and numerous arrows each with different purposes (e.g. broadhead arrows are standard combat arrows, water arrows douse torches and clean away blood pools, moss arrows carpet noisy floors, etc.), but the game encourages you to only use violence as a last resort, escape is always the more viable option if your caught. Two critical elements of play are monitoring how visible you are and how noisy your movement is. Sticking to the shadows and avoiding noisy flooring such as metallic floors or marble is instrumental in remaining undetected. And remaining undetected is key to staying as
The story of Thief The Dark Project would be considered by some to be it's weak point, but I disagree. Without spoiling anything, Garrett does a number of jobs, ranging from uncovering artefacts, stealing precious trinkets and teaching his fellow criminals who's boss. He is then contacted by a collector called Constantine, who hires him to get a gemstone for him called 'The Eye'. From there, Garrett finds himself in a titanic conspiracy which could destroy the world. Aaaand, that's all your getting from me. Needless to say however, I enjoyed the supernatural story of The Dark Project and the relative weirdness. Facing the undead and battling ape-men made for one hell of an experience! The level designs are impressively huge and beautifully detailed, from ominous abandoned cathedrals to dark city streets. They allow for plenty of creatively when it comes to completing your mission. For example, do you go conventionally through a locked door with the key you just picked up, or do you look around for a secret passage?
In conclusion, I would just have to say check Thief The Dark Project out. It's a classic, a stealth epic which forces you to think about every step you take, and about every corner you turn. So go get it, you taffer!