Whenever I play any medieval-like games, I often look down on archers. Sure, they're equally important in real-life medieval warfares, but on games, I more than often preferred to ignore them. I mean, why be an archer when you could be a bad-ass warrior with swords and shields?
Well, that changes when I'm looking through the catalogues on GOG.com during the holiday sales. It was Thief: Gold.
You can't deny that it's quite an unusual, but awesome kind of box art shape.
Intrigued, I look around for more info, and as a result:
Wait, it's the first 'proper' stealth game ever made? Not Metal Gear Solid?
Your movements will affect the AI's behaviour?
You can have objectives that don't allow you to kill anyone?
THERE'S WATER ARROWS? HOW DOES IT EVEN WORK?
Without delay, I ask my friend to help me get the whole Thief trilogy, and needless to say, it was one of the few games I never regretted purchasing.
Thief: The Dark Project, or 'TDP' in short, begins with Garrett, a young orphan boy, pickpockets a Keeper (Basically a medieval Assassin with magics.). Normally Keepers doesn't wish to be seen by common folks, hence they walk around the streets with stealth magics, but because Garrett can see them, the Keeper is impressed and offered him to join his organization, and the boy agrees. Fast forward several years to the tutorial level via cutscene, Garrett is shown to be a highly skilled Keeper, but since he have found 'other uses' for his hard-earned abilities, he quit being a peacekeeper and decides to live his whole life as a thief.
Garrett, the man who could sneak through your whole medieval army and steal the MacGuffin, given the opportunity and if you mess with him.
One of the main reasons why this game felt special to me is due to the experience of what it's like to be a thief in a medieval-esque steampunk city. The prospect of finding a way into a heavily-guarded place, knocking out guards with a blackjack, shooting water arrows at fire torches to darken the place, and steal as many loot as you can, while might sound odd to some, actually were quite appealing to me, to my own surprise.
Swordfighting is the weakest element of this game, but somehow it actually helps the game by encouraging players to not confront enemies, but stay away from them as best as you can. Swordfights are only for last resorts, and at higher difficulties, the game does not allow you to kill anyone.
This is either you suck at basic stealth, or you have a death wish on purpose.
Water arrows: Most useful in every level than you think.
Also, there's something cool about your ordinary bow is that its main purpose is not to shoot people (You can kill guards with broadhead arrows, but that's beside the point.), but as a Swiss Army Knife-like tool to help you stealth through the levels. Not only there are water arrows (God bless the ones who thought of this idea.), there's also fire arrows, moss arrows, rope arrows, and gas arrows.
The cutscenes, while mostly hand-drawn and sometimes animated, are pretty effective at conveying the story, along with Stephen Russell's deep-voiced narration as Garrett. The voice-acting in the Thief games are also quite unique, while most NPCs were voiced in British accents, certain important characters have American accents, a stark contrast that sometimes not only make it different than other medieval games, it also helps viewers to figure out which characters are critical to the plot. Heck, did I even mention the soundtrack? While most of them are moody tracks that fits the atmosphere of the games, a few of them have bass and drums added to them, which makes the intro a joy to listen to every time you start the game.
Just listen to the riffs, dude~
So there it is. Thanks to this game, it had already dethrone Deus Ex from my top spot of Favourite Gane of All Time, got me very interested in steampunk works and archery, and prompt me to create an idea of a Japanese-style Thief.
And thank god for Looking Glass Studios. You guys might have seperated, but your combined talents sure impressed me greatly.