An image from 'Thief', a video game from Square-Enix. (image: Square-Enix)
When Square-Enix puts out a new Thief game in 2014, they're not looking to release another sequel in a franchise that's been around for roughly 15 years. Much like what the company did with Tomb Raider earlier this year, they're looking to reinvent the brand and begin anew.
"Thief is based on the cult-classic Thief series from '98, which we are doing a reinvention of which is, by the time we come out in 2014, going to be ten years since the last installment of the Thief franchise," stated Daniel Windfeld Schmidt, the game's Lead Level Designer. "So, this is a game about stealing stuff and about being a sneaky sneaky stealthy person."
While he's calling next year's game a reinvention, Schmidt admits they're doing what they can to stay true to what the franchise has already established as canon.
"We didn't want to deviate too much from the original - the formula - because, you know, it worked," he commented. "People loved the game. So for us it was more about how do we pick out the elements that really made it feel like a Thief game and put it together with the new hardware that's on the market today, with player's expectations on what they'd expect in a triple-A game these days, and still maintain the essence - that feeling and mood - that the original series had."
One of the challenges in doing that is making a game that has controls that are accessible by today's standards, yet have the game still be challenging and difficult as the original Thief games were. That stated, the development team isn't ignoring the game's core audience who might simply want the old Thief gameplay experience on today's hardware.
"For the old Thief fans out there, what I can tell you is we have an old-school mode - the ability to do settings so that you play as close as possible to the original Thief modes," Schmidt explained.
This means that the navigational markers, contextual pop-ups, and other helper-type elements can be disabled. This includes, he said, the game's new signature "Focus" ability.
"It's really a kind of an ace card for the player so they can enhance their abilities," Schmidt pointed out about the new ability.
As for the game itself, players control a master thief named Garrett who lives in a world that is Victorian and steampunk-inspired. Upon returning to his home city, he finds that the rich enjoy grand extravagance while the rest of society wallows through the plague-filled underbelly of the city.
While Schmidt said the story is very interesting on its own, what the game is really about is options; how you (the player) wants to go about things and deal with situations.
"It adds a very intrinsic gameplay component to it where you have to kind of observe and you have to look at patterns and decide how you want to adapt to situations," the Lead Level Designer divulged. "What strategies do you use? So, you can go in guns blazing a little bit, buy you need to really think about what are the consequences of those actions."
This single-player stealth title has not solid release date as of yet, but is expected to come out sometime next year for PC, PlayStations 3 & 4, and Xbox 360 & One. There is currently no ESRB age rating data for this title.