NYCC 2013: Story and Gameplay Mechanics Revealed in the Thief Panel
The Thief panel today was filled to the brim with new information about the upcoming stealth game published by Square Enix. While no video or pictures were allowed, I was able to jot down some exclusive information.
The panel begins with the story trailer of Thief to refresh our memories. Then Steven Gallagher, the narrative director of the game, gave us a sweeping narrative that filled in some of the blanks. We learn about Eren’s origins as an orphan made to work in a brothel as a sweeper and opium deliverer.
She flees and meets up with Garrett, the master thief and protagonist of the series, who takes her in and trains her in his profession. However she begins to rebel and worse, begins to kill. Naturally this angers Garrett and eventually they split. This leads into the series of events that we already know concerning Eren’s death.
When Garrett awakens from his own fall, he finds that he has been away from the City for a year. Meanwhile, a man named Orion is rallying the poor, starved and sickened with the Gloom. But Garrett has no time to contemplate as he’s given an assignment right away.
The presentation then shifts to a gameplay demonstration of the first mission and all the mechanics. Here’s a rundown of the most pertinent points:
- The mission is to steal a beautiful gem called the Heart of the Lion from the Baron’s mansion.
- The interior is well deigned with gorgeous patterns decorating the walls and furniture. Even with the graphical decrease (due to technical difficulties), Thief still looks beautiful and atmospheric.
- Garrett’s body is always present in your view and is actually his placement and stance, not from a trick in camera angles.
- Light and shadow play major roles in the game, in terms of stealth mechanics.
- Garrett has a gameplay mechanism called Focus, which helps the player hone in on targets and makes theft much easier. It can be turned off if you prefer not to use such an advantage.
- Items, such as keys from careless guards, can be swiped quickly. There is no experience system, however; instead you can earn gold to purchase new gear such as wire-cutters and different kinds of arrows.
- Creating distractions is also important in order to disable guards. For instance, in one section the player threw an object which caught the attention of two guards, then quickly disabled them in one fell swoop.
- Different surface types can also affect your stealth capabilities. Carpets for example, absorb sounds which means that Garrett can run on them.
- Natural ventilation gives Garrett more options on infiltration. He can also look through keyholes and cracks in walls for information.
- The Perception System is a very interesting beast. The detection systems that guards use actually comes from the eyes, rather than the torso like most games. They can also use peripheral vision to track movement and can actually catch Garrett this way. Players will know when they were spotted when an enemy makes eye contact.
- Extending from that, the Sensory System (aka the Light Gem) checks things in each area such as guard positions, stances, sounds, etc. in order to determine your vulnerability. A flash of light in each new area indicates Garrett’s transitioning into a new zone and therefore into new danger.
- While Garrett will narrate clues to himself but the amount of talking he does depends on the difficulty setting.
- The game’s morals align with the players–it’s completely player driven.
- The sense of progression comes from slowly mastering all the intricate controls in the game. Gathering loot plays another small part.
- No multiplayer or co-op in the game. There is a leaderboard that compares the skill levels of player but it’s based on single-player.
- The actual melee combat system is very difficult to utilize, in order to discourage players from relying on it.
- While there is a degree of freedom in the game, it is not completely open world. The City is made to be delved into and for all its secrets to be discovered.
As you can tell, this panel was chock full of info.