Greetings Ghouls 'n Ghosts! I am back and bringing you a spooktacular with a game that at first glance, should not be an experience that delivers goosebumps and stiff hairs. So, why does a game remembered as a stealth/action game have such a creepy atmosphere?
Thief: The Dark Project is a game that spent such a long time in development that it is rather surprising it came out to be such a great game and experience. Other games which spent so long in development include such well remembered classics like Daikatana, Duke Nukem Forever, and Aliens: Colonial Marines.
Thief stars who else than a master thief by the name of Garrett in an unnamed medieval/magical/steampunk metropolis simply called 'The City.' Garrett is a former Keeper, masters of stealth and the keepers of ancient tomes and knowledge. But, now he's a freelance thief who finds himself caught up in a supernatural plot.
So, what makes this game spooky? As a result of its long development it went through many early builds and re-writes before the game was really built. The Dark Project was its final working title, and at times could have become a first person swords and sorcery action RPG involving communist zombies. The developers added stealth elements and realized that sneaking by the enemies was more fun than trying to fight everybody.
True story: the design team was inspired towards the stealth model by everybody's favorite submarine simulation, Silent Service. In the final game Garrett is an unstoppable force of sticky fingers while hidden or in the shadows, when exposed you must be a master of the combat system or face certain death.
Some of the inspiration from the early zombie idea was left in the final product, these are known as the Monster Levels. The game goes through a cycle every two or three levels, one type of level being a human based level, the other being one of the monster levels. The monster levels include useless zombies and quite a few more original monster designs.
Most of the creepy feelings and moments come not from the actual encounter of the monsters though, but the suspense built up by Eric Brosius' sound design and music compositions.
Sadly, Thief's sequels broke away from the horror inspired monster levels, being all but non-existent in Thief II: The Metal Age. There is a throwback towards The Dark Project's horror levels in the third Thief game, Deadly Shadows. It may just be one of the single greatest levels in the history of level based gaming. The Shalebridge Cradle...
So, the next time you're itching for a midnight gaming experience to enjoy in the dark, fire up Thief Gold, the total expanded version of the main game, turn out the lights, put your headphones on and immerse yourself in The City.