The best of The Dark Mod.

The best fan mis­sions for the Thief- style sim.

PC GAMER (US) - - CONTENTS - By Sam Greer

Are you feel­ing for­lorn for the hal­cyon days of the Thief se­ries? You may al­ready be aware of The Dark Mod. It’s a fan-made stand­alone mod that recre­ates the game­play and style of Thief, but isn’t set in the spe­cific uni­verse. With it, fans can cre­ate lev­els for oth­ers to en­joy. Hav­ing been out in the wild for years now, it’s amassed a huge li­brary of mis­sions. If you’re new to The Dark Mod, I’m here to help you find the best the game has to of­fer. And if you’re a vet­eran taffer, I’ve picked out some of my fa­vorite new mis­sions as well. Fair warn­ing to those ea­ger to jump in, though, The Dark Mod can be a bit rough around the edges, with cringe­wor­thy nar­ra­tion and more than a few bugs to in­ter­rupt your plans. It’s also worth down­load­ing the tu­to­rial mission. Whether you’re new to Thief or not, The Dark Mod does a lot of things in its own way, es­pe­cially with re­gards to con­trols. If you’re able to get on board with that, you’re in for a good time.

Let’s start with The Tears of St Lu­cia by Springheel and jdude, which is still one of the mod’s most el­e­gant cre­ations. You’re tasked with in­fil­trat­ing a slum’s well-guarded church to steal ev­ery­thing you can, but the rob­bery is just a cover. Your real task is to van­dal­ize a lo­cal statue that’s been pro­claimed as a mir­a­cle. A bit of theft and van­dal­ism is all in a good night’s work. It’s quite sim­ple, but is none­the­less full of se­cret en­trances, pa­trolling guards, and a few hid­den trea­sures. St Lu­cia may be among the more con­ven­tional mis­sions avail­able, but it works as a great show­case for what The Dark Mod can do.

Fan ser­vice

Whilst I found Tears of St Lu­cia a bit straight­for­ward, A Score to Set­tle (also by Springheel) is far larger and more com­plex. This sprawl­ing level en­com­passes in­ter­twin­ing streets, tun­nels, and hide­outs, with an ob­jec­tive to em­bar­rass a no­to­ri­ous gang leader (you can’t say these fans aren’t in­ven­tive with their ob­jec­tives). I was im­pressed with just how much of the map you can tra­verse, climb­ing over fences and ledges, which is handy not just for reach­ing goals, but for get­ting away from a pesky guard in pur­suit. And once you’ve wrapped up all your ob­jec­tives, you need to make a dar­ing get­away across town. A per­fect night out.

Hor­ror and In­trigue

If you want to see The Dark Mod re­ally flex its mus­cles, then look no fur­ther than Full Moon Fever by Spoon­man. This is a clas­sic, en­tic­ing Thief- style mission. A sprawl­ing manor to rob, with the un­timely death of its lord serv­ing as a mys­tery at the heart of it all. The won­der­ful thing about the mission is how it starts out of­fer­ing an elab­o­rate man­sion full of guards to nav­i­gate and over­come, but then you find out that’s not even half of what it has to show. In­ves­ti­gat­ing the mur­der of the lord leads to the level flip­ping on its head, go­ing from a clas­sic rob­bery mission to a full on hor­ror show. And there’s more! I al­most burst out laugh­ing as it just kept go­ing and go­ing, of­fer­ing yet an­other ex­cit­ing area or twist. It’s a true plea­sure to play through, thanks to a fairly deft hand for en­vi­ron­men­tal sto­ry­telling.

From the same cre­ator comes an­other stel­lar mission, King of the Moun­tain. This one is much more


does a lot of things in its own way, es­pe­cially with re­gards to con­trols

straight­for­ward: You’re a pris­oner look­ing to es­cape a no­to­ri­ous prison. Sim­ple. Of course, you have to do so with­out any equip­ment what­so­ever, and you need to nav­i­gate this labyrinth with­out any map or clues. With plenty of guards around ev­ery cor­ner, the odds feel de­ci­sively stacked against you, so pre­vail­ing feels all the more sat­is­fy­ing. Yet what lingers with me—as with Spoon­man’s pre­vi­ous map—is the abil­ity to tell a story through the sights you find around the level. A makeshift box­ing ring in one cor­ner of the prison tells you all you need to know about the kind of place that you’re es­cap­ing.

Speak­ing of such de­tails, let me in­tro­duce Down by the River­side by Dragofer, a fun and at­mo­spheric mission that opens with you hid­den aboard a boat to reach a re­mote and sup­pos­edly haunted man­sion. This one’s a doozy, packed full of sur­pris­ing turns as it tells the tale of a trou­bled fam­ily. It can also be un­bear­ably tense at times—the manor’s creepy at­mos­phere is al­most suf­fo­cat­ing as you try to avoid loot­ers and worry about what’s ac­tu­ally in the base­ment. If this mission owes a debt to any­thing from Thief, it’s Rob­bing the Cra­dle from Deadly Shad­ows. Be­ing able to re­mind me of that hor­ror clas­sic speaks to this fan cre­ation’s qual­ity.

At­mos­phere in spades

Last but by no means least is Bri­ar­wood Manor by Chris ‘Neon­style’ Kil­gar­iff. This is a lav­ishly pre­sented mission, that even comes with its own in­tro­duc­tory FMV cutscene. It all takes place in a manor shrouded in fog, with a com­plex in­te­rior that oozes at­mos­phere. I found the whole place a lit­tle un­hinged, with its flick­er­ing lanterns, up­set horses and the ste­ward, who finds the place cold and un­wel­com­ing de­spite hav­ing stayed there for months. There’s more to it than just the pre­sen­ta­tion, though. With no map, no black­jack, and lim­ited wa­ter ar­rows, this is a real test of your skills. I found my­self hold­ing my breath on more than one oc­ca­sion. All in all, it’s one of the finest mis­sions The Dark Mod has to of­fer.

These are some of my fa­vorite sin­gle mis­sions, but there’s plenty more avail­able—from short, quick rob­beries, to mul­ti­mis­sion sto­ries like the Wil­liam Steele tril­ogy. And, if the com­mu­nity is any­thing to go by, there’ll be plenty more clas­sics for years to come.

These might be fan mis­sions but they’re truly lav­ish.

It’s a nice statue, shame you have to smash it.

Not just your reg­u­lar old haunted man­sion.

These dark streets have plenty of spots to hide.

TheDarkMod looks its age but that fog is ex­quis­ite.

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