Thief: The Dark Project is the first game in the Thief series, released in 1998. It is the story of Garrett, a master thief, and the sinister plot he intertwines himself into while merely attempting to live off of his chosen profession. Based upon the Dark Engine, the game brought many new ideas and technological achievements to the software industry when it was released.
Although the game initially reported low sales, as time continued, the game gained a devout and ever-growing fanbase. The game was, in the eyes of those who knew of it, one of the best games of the year and certainly one of the top games of all time. It was innovative, fun to play, contained an immersive storyline, intelligent AI (for the time), and most importantly, different from everyone else. In a time where first-person games were all about how fast and furious the combat was, Thief came along with its average graphics and deliberate (but heart-stopping) gameplay, and people loved it. The industry even coined a new genre, the stealth action, in reference to this stellar game.
You play the role of Garrett, a cynical, extremely talented master thief with a unique history, trying to make a living in the City. The City is a dark, tightly-knit urban centre, with a look somewhere between Victorian-era London and a magic-filled medival village. The time period is unique; weapons have not progressed much beyond swords and bows, yet gas lights illuminate the dark alleys, and simplistic machines are occasionally available. Beneath all of this lays a curious magical undercurrent as well.
Garret shares this Victorian-esque, urban city with two factions; the Hammerites, an strict political and religious group who essentially own the city, and the Keepers, an ancient group of magically-trained intellects who hide in the shadows and attempt to keep balance within the walls of the city. Beyond the walls lies a mysterious group of people known only as the Pagans, uncivilized forest-dwellers who abhor the sprawl and destruction of the City.
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Although the game contains many interesting (and sometimes hilarious) sub-plots to follow at your own leisure, the main plot of the game comes into its own after a few missions. You are hired by a mysterious figure named Viktoria, to steal a sword from an eclectic newcomer to the city, Constantine. After navigating the man's house (an ongoing project of his lack of sanity, apparently), you steal the sword and return it to Viktoria, only to have her and Constantine awaiting your arrival. They reveal to Garrett that the sword was only a test of his skill - Constantine is the true customer, and wishes Garrett to steal a special artifact, known only as the "Eye", from a closed-off section of the city.
After an extremely difficult and elaborate set of missions, Garrett obtains the Eye and returns to Viktoria's mansion. Viktoria suddenly reveals her true form - a Pagan monster - and rips Garrett's right eye from his face as a sacrifice to the Eye. Constantine reveals himself to be the Trickster, a powerful Pagan god-like demon of ancient Hammerite texts.
With the help of the Keepers, Garrett escapes and is sent to stop the summoning that the Trickster intends to use, to plunge the city into eternal darkness and return the land to its original form. After (reluctantly) saving a Hammerite shrine from a horde of Pagan monsters, the Hammerites offer to help by forging a fake, booby-trapped Eye. Garrett sneaks into the Maw, the den of the Trickster, and replaces the real Eye with the fake. Just before the summoning is complete, the Trickster reaches for the eye and is killed. Garrett then stops the summoning and saves the City.
The cast of the story is a small one, but there are a few main players in the game, besides Garrett himself.
- Viktoria: A mysterious lady who appears in the city one day. She hires Garrett to steal a sword from Constantine as a test, and appears to work for the Trickster. Her true intentions are never fully revealed.
- Constantine: An eccentric (and spectacularly rich) man who moves to the city and builds a mansion with gravity-defying rooms . He later reveals himself to be the Trickster, an ancient god of lore from Hammerite texts.
- Cutty: Garrett's old "friend" and fence. Garret has to break Cutty out of prison so he can get paid for te Bafford job, but later Cutty succumbs to the elements and dies within his cell.
- Basso the Boxman: A friend that Garrett rescues from Cragscleft prison, so that his sister would be VERY grateful.
Garrett only carries 3 real weapons:
Garrett's trusty blackjack comes in handy for two things; knocking out an unsuspecting person from behind, or striking against a surface to attract an enemy. Unlike the other two weapons you can carry however, equipping the blackjack will not increase your visibility or slow your movement speed.
Garrett carries a sword only for his own protection in an emergency. He is a master thief, not a warrior. As such, only in rare or unavoidable circumstances will he actually attempt to fight with another person. The sword can be used to backstab an unalerted enemy and kill them immediately, and also can be used to cut wall tapestries that hide many secrets of the game.
Perhaps Garrett's most useful tool, the bow can be used with a plethora of different ammunition.
- Regular arrows are available for dispatching enemies, triggering switches, and distracting guards from a distance.
- Water arrows are regular shafts with a crystal filled with water at the tip, as opposed to the regular broad arrowhead. These can be used for putting out torches and gas lamps, cleaning bloodstains, and even disabling the furnaces of steam-powered beasts.
- Fire arrows are similar, but carry a highly-combustable substance within the crystal. These can be used for distractions, re-lighting torches, or doing immense damage to various targets (including the otherwise indestructable security cameras).
- Moss arrows spread a thick layer of moss over a surface, allowing Garrett to move much faster (or merely land) on a loud surface without attracting any attention to himself.
- Gas arrows carry a powerful knockout gas in their tips, allowing you to incapacitate numerous enemies at once with one arrow.
- Rope arrows can be fired into a wooden or earth surface and deploy a length of rope that allow Garrett to access areas otherwise impossible to reach.
- Noisemaker arrows emanate a humming noise as they fly, and continue to make random clicks and knocks once stopping. These can be useful for distracting patrolling guards or other enemies.