So, a couple days ago, we finally heard from Thief 4’s lead designer, Stephane Roy, regarding the game’s negative reception in an interview with Game Informer. So, did they learn from their mistakes? Is there even a trace of humility? Do they realize that - Thief name aside - they crafted a mechanically-inferior stealth title?
The short answer is no.
The long answer is fuck no.
A couple things to note up-front:
Game Informer have been essentially in-the-tank for this game since early 2013. They were given special access to early builds of the game, were permitted to run exclusive sneak-peeks of Teef for a solid month and a half leading up to the first trailer reveal… and this manner of access comes with an implied price tag. Game Informer were one of only a couple of review sites that gave the game a glowingly positive review (which in retrospect, leaves them looking a bit silly) and as such, the questions they ask Mr. Roy are not exactly the pinnacle of hard-hitting journalism. Walter Cronkite over here is too busy lobbing journalistic marshmallows to ask the tough questions about the functionality of A.I., the prohibitive loading zones, or utterly broken audio engine.
All the same… we get a very raw glimpse of the unbridled developmental hubris that ultimately resulted in this abject disappointment through a few select quotes:
- "Audio is super important in a game like Thief, and we wanted to provide strong ambiance and an immersive experience for the players…"
- "We needed to have these loading zones in there in order to create the rich, immersive environment you see in the game…"
- "We were all very big fans of Stephen Russell’s previous work on Thief – the originals would not have been what they were without him. However we did not make Thief 4; this was a new entry into the series, and we wanted to make sure that we weren’t presenting a carbon copy of the previous games and the previous Garrett…"
- "We wanted rope arrows to be puzzle-like elements in the environment, allowing players who looked around to be rewarded. When players have a limited supply of rope arrows that can be used anywhere on the map, we found that people tended to not use them at all in fear that they’d be wasted. Now, when someone sees the rope arrow anchor, we want them to think and consider their options “I can either go up here or look around for another entrance…"
Feel free to read more of the interview, which is less a post-mortem and more a conglomeration of P.R. doublespeak.
The short version is this:
Eidos Montréal still don’t get it.
You have to hand it to them. The obliviousness is almost impressive.
Their skulls are built Tonka tough.