A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
This game glorifies the act of thievery and the life of a thief. It makes stealing appear both exciting and lucrative and shows little if any of the consequences affecting victims of theft.
Positive Role Models
Garrett, the game's protagonist, is an antihero. An unapologetic criminal, he steals valuables whenever and wherever he can, regardless of who might own them. But he also adheres to a code that keeps him from using violence unless absolutely necessary, even ending up the reluctant savior of his city, fighting its corrupt aristocracy. He never completely redeems himself, though, and his career as a thief doesn't result in any serious repercussions.
Ease of Play
This is a challenging game meant for veteran players experienced in stealth play. Being spotted can lead to a quick death, which means caution is a constant requirement. Thankfully, saving is allowed almost everywhere and at nearly any time, so prudent gamers will never lose much progress.
Violence & Scariness
Players are encouraged to use stealth rather than violence (it's possible to play the entire game without killing anyone), but the game's hero is capable of vicious attacks using arrows and a blackjack club. Players will see arrows embedded at grotesque angles in people's bodies as well as stylized animations showing the game's hero whacking his enemies on the head, making them grunt in pain. Blood is sometimes seen smeared on various surfaces. Nonplayer characters carry out attacks with swords and bows, and several scenes show men hanged or in the process of being dropped from the gallows. Innocent civilians can be targeted if the player chooses, though without any objective or reward.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One of the game's chapters is set in a bordello, where topless women can be seen lounging with men. Moans and light movement suggest sexual activity. Some paintings and sculptures depict naked women.
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Spoken and text-based dialogue includes profanity, with frequent use of words including "s--t" and "f--k."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The player's character doesn't take drugs or drink alcohol, but nonplayer characters do. A pair of pubs serve as important locations, and men can be seen drunk, mumbling, and stumbling through the streets. There's frequent talk of drugs, especially opium, and one mission allows players to knock out a whole building full of people by piping the substance through the ventilation system.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Thief is a stealth-action game with some very mature themes. Players take on the role of a skilled and unapologetic thief who doesn't care whom he steals from. The act of thieving is made to seem exciting and alluring and serves as the core of the game. Violence is relatively rare but can be vicious and sensationalized when it does occur. Some parts of the game feature drugs and sex, especially a lengthy chapter set inside a brothel, where prostitutes naked from the waist up are seen and heard pleasuring male clients. Opium pipes are scattered around the environment, and although the player's character refuses to partake himself, he doesn't balk at using the drug to knock out rooms full of people. This is a game squarely targeted at adult players and is appropriately rated "Mature" by the ESRB.
Is It Any Good?
Though it's certainly not for kids, older players may find Thief's challenging stealth-action seductive. The game is set in a stunning world filled with dark and beautiful architecture that feels real and inhabited. And while Garrett is an antihero whose actions and motives often are suspect, it's hard to deny the fun of the mechanics involved in sneaking around the city undetected and filching valuable loot. Looking for hidden levers amid tomes on bookshelves and searching for clues in random notes that give a hint to private safe combinations make for undeniably tantalizing play that more often than not will leave users feeling smug and clever.
That said, Thief does run into the occasional hitch. Glitchy sound design makes it hard to hear the direction from which nearby conversations are taking place and how far away the speakers are. Also, although most of the levels are cleverly designed and memorable, one of the main chapters descends into a tedious journey through a maze of random rooms. Still, adults with a taste for sneaky games and who like a serious challenge are in for a treat.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.