The first words spoken by shadow-hugging anti-hero Garrett in almost a decade are carefully chosen: “I’ve been away, but I couldn’t tell you where.” In that wry, noirish tone of old, they acknowledge his absence and also address the conundrum of bringing him back – the balancing act of continuity and reinvention at which Eidos Montreal proved itself more than adept with 2011’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
In some ways, this is a fresh beginning. The ‘4’ is gone from the title – a blessing, since at last look it appeared in the middle of it – and the game is aimed at PC and the next gen, confirmed for PS4 and “other next-gen consoles” (read: the new Xbox). These decisions are linked: Thief is now a new game for new machines. But it’s also still unmistakably Thief, a firstperson stealth adventure set in a world built around shadows, light and stealthily cracking people unconscious with a sturdy blackjack.
Certain building blocks have been identified as crucial to the Thief experience. Garrett is one of them. The 30-minute gameplay demo Eidos Montreal has readied for the press shows a scarred, angular hero strapped in buckled leather layers up to his high, peaked hood. The obvious concern is the jollification of this dark hero to appeal to broad console audiences, but if anything the new Garrett threatens to be too snarled, too icy. He delivers his signature line during a monologue – “What’s yours can be mine” – and it seems a shade more purposeful and directed than the appealing bow for hire of the original games. The team, though, see him as essentially unchanged. “The Garrett I know is back,” says producer Stephane Roy.