The final (good) Thief recreation, Thief: Lethal Shadows, got here out 16 years in the past and I adored it. Nonetheless do. There’s one thing deeply empowering about being absolutely invisible within the shadows, smacking armored guards at the back of the top and dousing torches with fancy water arrows. Taking part in as Garrett, the agile and grasping titular hero, I really feel like a stealing machine. There’s nothing that may cease me from filling my pockets with as a lot gold as doable earlier than leaving the scene with no hint.
Nothing besides a down-to-my-core concern of ghost orphans.
The very best moments within the Thief franchise have all the time revolved round doing, effectively, thief-y issues. For instance: There’s a fort having a flowery celebration and also you’ve gotta skulk within the shadows, snagging diamond necklaces and golden goblets. Excellent Thief stage. However within the first Thief, issues went just a little awry when the builders thought it’d be enjoyable to ship you right into a crypt to struggle skeletons and varied different beasties. No, not why I’m right here, of us. I’m right here to steal doubloons and never get my arms soiled, not punch goblins within the face.
Later Thief video games discovered this lesson, eradicating a lot of the required face-to-face fight in favor of letting you role-play because the sneakiest rattling thief on the earth. Thief: Lethal Shadows, one of the best of the bunch, deemphasizes the supernatural, as a substitute choosing a extra grounded portrayal of a London-esque metropolis in the course of the Victorian period.
So I’m 80% of the way in which by means of the sport and issues are going nice. I’ve stolen extra loot than I can slot in my home and I’m drowning in fancy arrows and potions
And right here come the ghost orphans!
The mission that has caught with me for the final 16 years known as “Robbing the Cradle.” It’s set in a spot referred to as Shalebridge Cradle. Within the mission briefing, I study that it “was once an insane asylum and earlier than that it was an orphanage.” Sure, you learn proper, it’s an deserted insane asylum constructed inside ruins of an deserted orphanage. Coooooool.
Issues begin out wonderful. You head into the Cradle and begin exploring, discovering varied notes to find the horrible backstory of this place. Typical stuff: murdered orphans, fires, human experimentation, that sorta factor. The world of Thief is stuffed with terrible stuff, so none of that is too stunning. And that’s when the extent kicks into excessive gear.
All through most of Lethal Shadows, you’ll hear guards chatting with each other, beggars asking for change, or aristocrats questioning the place to retailer their valuables. It’s a quiet recreation but it surely doesn’t really feel lonely. You’re all the time inside arms attain of individuals going about their every day lives.
Not so in Shalebridge Cradle. You can hear a pin drop on this place. Each step you’re taking echoes by means of the halls like a cymbal crash. Each door creaks open like a jackhammer. There’s nothing else to distract you from simply how loud you’re being.
Twenty minutes into exploring the Cradle, I haven’t seen one other soul and the strain continues to construct. I begin listening to whispers and child cries within the distance. Shit.
After 25 minutes, I begin considering that perhaps this entire stage is simply empty, meant to creep me out with audio design and the story of a tortured orphan child.
After which I flip a nook. Earlier than me lies a reception desk, behind it a big, gloomy window looking on a darkish night. And one thing walks in entrance of the window.
That’s it. There was no fireball hurled my means, no glowing eyes within the distance, only a silhouette passing in entrance of a window for 2 seconds.
I lose my shit. I’m not even 100% positive I see one thing however I’m paralyzed on the prospect. I stand there for a strong 10 minutes, ready to see in the event that they’ll return. They don’t. My exploration slows to a crawl. I’m sweating.
I discover deeper, reaching the Interior Cradle, and the whole lot goes south. Immediately of us in straight jackets with cages round their heads are lurching by means of the halls. Are these the ghost orphans? No, I suppose not. They appear too tall.
I lastly have some firm, however I’m craving for quieter instances when my face wasn’t getting ripped off by these straight jacket fools. It’s a tonal shift the place I went from being creeped out of my gourd to working for my life.
As for the ghost orphan who actually desires me to free her soul from this place … does she not understand I’ve acquired taller fish to fry? However wonderful, I tackle the duty because the woman leads me from one creepfest to the subsequent, flipping switches and turning keys in varied components of this haunted shitbox of a home.
The one means I can go away is to journey again in time and idiot the home (sure the home is sentient) into considering I leapt from a window to my demise. I make a mad sprint, dodging cage-heads and random ghost guards alongside the way in which, leaping out the highest window at a lifeless dash. Not precisely a heartwarming finish but it surely does handle to free me from the clutches of this horror present of a stage.
Lethal Shadows got here out in 2004, alongside GTA: San Andreas and Burnout 3: Takedown. The concept of constructing a big chunk of your recreation with no single enemy, relying solely on creepy audio design and lighting to promote the temper, was fairly revolutionary on the time. Hell, even Doom 3 didn’t have the heart to go that lengthy with out an enemy. Today it’s a reasonably customary trick, highlighted by video games like Outlast, Amnesia, and even Gone Residence, however again then it was daring, new, and goddamn terrifying.
Perhaps I’m due for one more journey to go to the ghost orphans? Uh, onerous go.