Breaking the Rules.

In PC, Thief on June 12, 2009 at 12:36 am


Thief: Deadly Shadows-  PC

One of the key elements of the premier “sneak ‘em up” series is tension. It comes from the constant threat of a quick death if cornered, having to dive from shadow to shadow to avoid being seen, and hoping, praying, that that guard didn’t see you just then. Knowing the limits of the enemies you encounter helps lessen the tension, but Thief keeps the player on their toes, by breaking the rules.

Thief quickly establishes the rules for the basic human guards; a blackjack from behind will knock them unconscious and a knife in the back is a lethal takedown. In both instances they won’t be getting up again. This is how the game works for several levels, until it breaks the player out of their comfort zone, with the return of the undead.

These walking corpses are unaffected by the blackjack, and a knife will only put them down until you come near; at which point they will leap up and attack. Even if it looks dead, it isn’t, and a flash bomb or holy water is the only way to kill them, which is made clear by the evaporating corpse.

All is well until you first encounter the infamous Cradle’s “own brand” undead. These twitching monsters function exactly like the other living dead, but with a twist; the corpses don’t vanish. It’s a purely aesthetic feature, but it creates tension from what you already know about undead enemies.

Finally, there are the less subtle gargoyles that are immune to any form of attack; these can only be avoided, until you get the enhanced blackjack later in the game.

Thief breaks the rules as a way of maintaining the tension; throwing something at the player that they don’t quite understand and forcing them to adapt.


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