www.GameInformer.com
Switch Lights

The lights are on

What's Happening

Thief

Hands-On With Thief's Non-Traditional Control Scheme

If there's one thing we can say about our hands-on time with Thief, it's that Garrett moves unlike any other character I've controlled. That's not to say he performs unnatural feats, though. It's just that the Eidos Montreal has devised a control scheme that takes some getting used to.

At Gamescom, we had a conversation with narrative designer Steven Gallagher. Yesterday, we prowled through Garrett's world.

The demo placed us a few hours into the adventure in a slice of the game that features four jobs and a hidden side-mission. The jobs are typically brief, slightly cerebral, and encapsulated narrative beats. Garrett has just returned to his clock tower home after being gone for a number of years, and must reacquaint himself with a city that is oppressed by man and plague alike.

As we explore the city, we become acquainted with the non-traditional control scheme. There is no jump button. Cover is handled with an interaction button (X on the Xbox 360 controller), and Garrett can "swoop" forward, back, and side to side. This allows him to gracefully duck into the shadows or advance on an enemy for a takedown.

As we prowl the rooftops, it is easier to hold the left trigger to engage a free-run mode. This sends Garrett over obstacles, jumping to ropes, and up walls. The lack of a jump button is most noticeable when trying to mantle or grab onto a rope dangling above.

Garrett is handy in a fight against one foe, dodging and using melee attacks, but is easily overpwered by multiple enemies. He's better off staying in the shadows, using trick arrows to douse flames, lower bridges, drop ropes, and distract foes. Unlike some games with stealth overtones, Thief is meant to be played quietly. Open combat is discouraged and often ends in defeat.

Stolen treasure fuels the purchase of more arrows, upgrades, items like wire cutters and a ratchet (for removing valuable gold plates from walls), and health items. Focus restoring poppies replenish Garrett's ability to sense enemies and see valuable items.

It was fun to sneak around the city, listen in on conversations, and dart in and out of the shadows. We've now had a chance to learn the story and to play the game. The two have yet to fully intersect in our time with the game. It's not entirely clear how Garrett's thieving ways will benefit his oppressed city. 

We're looking forward to learning more about Thief and understanding how Garrett's self-serving lifestyle forwards the narrative. Square Enix has pegged a February 25, 2014, release date on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.

For more on Thief, check out the coverage from our April issue. You can also watch a new gameplay trailer here.

Email the author , or follow on , , and .

Comments
  • I'm going to try to pres the jump button so many times, only to remember it isn't there haha.
  • I really love stealth games, so hopefully this turns out great.

  • I'm not sure I like the sound of how the control scheme is but I'll reserve judgement until I get my hands on it!

  • I'm already iffy on this because I cannot think of one stealth game I liked in years. Adding in odd controls might be the final straw. If they release one I try the demo but I think I'll probably pass on this.
  • Ehhhh idk about the no jump button. It'll definitely take awhile toget used to

  • I think by making the game to be played stealth that your cutting out a large chunk of other gamers, which in turn reduces recption and lowers profit. A good example of what they should do is dishonored as it could be played both ways. Also for new people starting the theif games it seems to me that it lacks the gripping items to draw them in. Maybe give some of the story to bring them in as I have yet to find anything close to a good story
  • So heroin gives him focus. Seems legit.

  • this is dishonored. its not the thief i remember
  • So ready for this game. My uncle got me hooked on this series when I was a youngin.

  • Well for one I like the unique approach there taking with this game risky. But innovation is needed & that's what gamers seem to not be able to grasp that concept. PS4 day 1 shipping I'm out

  • I'm glad they're experimenting with control schemes, the only way for things to move forward is for devs to try new things.

  • Hmm, this control scheme already seems like something that will get it bad marks.

  • No jump button...This will be awkward for me. Sounds like the controls will be a little awkward. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, and they probably just take some getting used to. (Although I doubt I'm going to end up playing now...) It would be 'funny' if his thieving did absolutely nothing for the city. The whole game is just about some guy running around stealing stuff and that's it..
  • Good for them. Games shouldn't fear being unique. Halo and Assassin's Creed don't have to be the only control schemes in the First Person/Action genres.

  • Is this Dishonored 2? Because it doesn't look like Thief
  • I've never played the previous Thief games, but this looks pretty cool. Definitely something different for me.
  • Sounds like AC a bit.

  • No jump button? That's going to be interesting... I'm curious to see how Garrett's "thieving ways will benefit his oppressed city" as well. He seems to be an unlikely hero in all of this, which I think makes the game even more appealing.