A brief snippet of a Thief 4 cinematic has snuck out, but the game itself might be struggling.
There are few games that can get me charged up like Thief. I recently reinstalled the original Thief: The Dark Project from 1998 – a game that’s older than some high school students, in other words – and was delighted to discover that it remains as playable, intense and flat-out brilliant as ever. So it’s fair to say that I’m a little excited about Thief 4, currently being developed by Eidos Montreal, the studio that did such a fantastic job with last year’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
Not really sure what to make of this brief clip, however. It looks the part in a general sense, but the details feel “off” somehow: the mechanical bow, Garrett’s more ninja-like countenance, the relatively conventional-looking late Victorian setting. Then again, this is a promo trailer, where liberties are sometimes taken, and it’s also about 20 seconds long, which admittedly isn’t much to go on.
The video originally appeared as part of a demo reel put together by Eric Wong, an employee (or perhaps former employee) of Goldtooth Creative, the studio that did all those brilliant Deus Ex trailers. The original was quickly pulled once the Thief footage came to light but, this being the internet, it was too late at that point and the clip is now happily multiplying on YouTube and elsewhere.
Less happy, however, are the reports of trouble with the development of the game, which made no appearance at E3 despite being in the works for four years. It turns out that the Paul Weir, audio director and composer on the game, left Eidos Montreal in March, while lead level designer Adam Alim departed a month earlier. And according to the resume of another Goldtooth editor, the trailer was intended for release in December 2011, but Square Enix has sat on it for reasons unknown.
Turnover on any major project is normal, but concerns about the situation on Thief 4 are amplified by the fact that the game has made absolutely no visible progress since its announcement more than three years ago. Thief4.com is still nothing more than a terrible logo and a link to a single forum, and despite saying in April 2011 that the studio’s focus has transitioned from Deus Ex to Thief, Adam Jensen is still standing watch over the Eidos Montreal Twitter page. It’s way too early for the wailing and gnashing of teeth, yes, but a nagging concern at the back of your mind? That, I think, is perfectly reasonable.