Square Enix announced Thief (p86) in 2009, but only deemed it fit for public eyes a year ago. The response to the direction in which Eidos Montreal had taken this storied series was, to put it mildly, mixed. The development team changed tack, but Thief is still a game with a muddled sense of self. Garrett has been reborn with Connor Kenway’s freerunning, Nathan Drake’s platforming and Bruce Wayne’s environment scanning, so the end product only truly feels like a Thief game when you turn off as many of these additions as you can and look past those you can’t. It is a game with a clear identity crisis. Thankfully, the mid-development volte-face just about pays off.
FromSoftware, however, knows exactly what it wants to do, and will stick to its guns even if the end doesn’t always justify the means. Thankfully, Dark Souls II (p82) is no Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor. It’s every bit the Souls sequel we’d hoped for, despite those early promises of greater accessibility. FromSoftware claims that was a mistranslation, and given that we died over 300 times in our 50-hour trek across Drangleic, we’re now inclined to believe it.
Updating a classic can’t be easy. The weight of fan expectation rubs up against the desires of the development team, marketing’s PR plan and the boardroom’s eye on the balance sheet. It’s the developers who can ignore some of those factors that have the greatest chance of success. FromSoftware would surely never take orders from Namco, and Jeff Minter takes orders from no one – TxK (p96) is his third official crack at a Tempest remake, and it happens to be his best yet. We’re not saying the answer is to live on a remote Welsh farm surrounded by animals, but too many cooks very nearly spoiled Thief’s broth, and at least Minter’s livestock let him get on with his work in peace.