by Sean Martin
reviewed on PC
Okay, so imagine if Hitman and XIII had a baby together and that baby grew up into an adult (probably quite a disturbed one considering the parentage) but who then, one magical day, met and fell in love with a wonderful man called Invisible Inc. The child they had together would probably look something like Thief of Thieves. Combining XIIIís cell-shaded comic book cut-scenes, with Hitmanís costume and routes of approach, with Invisble Incís art-deco, criminal classiness, Thief of Thieves is an interesting menagerie of game. You play as Celia, protege to master thief Redmond, but since botching a job and making some dangerous enemies, she has had to flee to Italy. There she joins a team of fellow up-and-coming heisters and undertakes a series of daring thefts and capers.
My intro into Thief of Thieves was a series of comic-book cutscenes, but they afforded me just enough control, choosing dialogue options and walking through an airport while dialogue played out, so as not to be bored. I was then dropped into my first heist; to steal a classic motorcycle from an ex-Russian mobster. This section felt very Hitman, choosing a route to sneak in, finding a disguise and avoiding NPCs who would see through that costume. This was just the first heist however and as the game goes on, they get more multifaceted: you get a team, a choice of how to approach a heist and heist preparation missions become far more intricate.
The feature I appreciated most in Thief of Thieves was the way you could make other members of your team carry out actions, such as kicking over a bin as a distraction, while you slip past a guard.
INTERACTIVE COMIC BOOK
Thief of Thieves is based upon the best-selling comic book series of the same name by Robert Kirkman, and it would be fair to say it wears that influence on itís sleeve. It would not be a stretch to call the game part interactive comic book, as while there are heists and playable sections, a significant chunk is spent watching comic style cut-scenes and choosing dialogue options. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that, especially in a game as well voice acted as this one is (except for some pretty diabolical accents). For the most part, the dialogue is also fairly well written, despite a few clumsy moments. But on the whole, they both carry themselves well and the inner monologue and retrospective narration often add to that sense of playing through a comic book. The visual style also perfectly reflects the source material and to my pleasant surprise, has sound effects that visually appear on the screen, a feature I love but havenít often seen since XIII.
STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE
I would say that the few flaws this game does have, fall into the above category. While you sneak around a level, you have no control of the camera; each new section has a lovely dynamic camera angle, complementing that comic book aesthetic. But unfortunately in a game where you need to keep an eye on guard locations, it can often mean a guard will spot you off-camera and you will be completely unaware until he runs into shot and tackles you. On top of this, the guards are like goldfish; they will spot you, but as soon as you hide again, they will forget ridiculously quick. Also with no light-meter and the cell-shaded art style, it can often be hard to work out light-level, what counts as hidden or when a guard will actually spot you. I wouldnít say these aspects are enough to ruin the game, but a few levels in, they had already begun to frustrate me slightly.
On the whole Thief of Thieves is a surprisingly deep game mechanically, to say that its primary purpose is as a comic book adaptation. The dialogue is fairly strong and despite some bad accents, it holds its own and gives the player plenty of choice. The heists and their preparation missions are pretty varied and allow for a range of approaches. But most of all, the game is very consistent tonally; that comic art style is on point and the game just generally exudes a sense of criminal classiness. I would definitely recommend this to comic-book turned game fans or to anyone craving a spot of thievery.
Great comic-book art style, consistent dialogue.
Goldfish guards, disorientating camera angles.