Retro Reviews – Thief: Deadly Shadows

Thief: Deadly Shadows puts the player in the shoes of Garrett, a master thief. They will use a combination of stealth tactics and gadgets to sneak through middle-age-inspired buildings, avoiding or neutralizing guards as they search for treasure.

Thief: Deadly Shadows

Thief offers open level structure, as well as introducing access to “the City” between missions. The City gives the player an opportunity to pick pockets, obtain supplies and search for side-missions.


Thief: DS is a first- and third-person shooter-style game, although the focus is on movement rather than combat. The game takes place completely at night, to facilitate the thieving of goods. You control Garrett as you move around levels, avoiding guards and brightly-lit areas and favoring shadows. Each level has certain goals you have to meet, which change depending on the difficulty you are playing on. Typically, you have to steal a specific item, some other rare item, and a certain amount of more common loot. Loot can be anything from silver candlesticks to stacks of coins, and is scattered throughout the levels.

While Thief: DS focuses on stealth, combat can and does happen. Your repertoire of gadgets includes, to start out, a dagger, a blackjack and a bow. The blackjack is excellent for ending fights before they occur, as a single blow will concuss any guard that is unaware of your presence, provided you strike from behind. The dagger (and later, a sword) allow you to go toe-to-toe with alert and heavily armed guards.

Thief Deadly Shadows poster

Thief: DS’s combat system itself is unsophisticated, typically involving a lot of dodging and simple attacks. Garrett is admittedly not a soldier, and so you can expect difficulty when fighting against trained guards and military personnel.

Other gadgets include flash bombs, which are great for distracting alerted guards and escaping, and special types of arrows. Such arrows include water arrows, which will douse exposed flames such as torches, noisemaker arrows, which distract guards, and simple broadhead arrows, which can be used to combat your foes from a distance.


Thief: Deadly Shadows follows the examples of earlier Thief games in the use of audio cues between player and AI. There is no ambient music present, and so the player is able to carefully listen to their own footsteps, as well as those of other characters. Excessive noise made by the player will attract guards, who will investigate such noises carefully. The player must monitor their sounds, and creep accordingly in various situations.

Thief Deadly Shadows game

Different surfaces will make differing amounts of sound as the player walks across them. Hard wood and stone floors will produce more noise than carpet or grass, and so the player should be aware of what they are walking on. The speed also effects the level of noise produced. Garrett can run or walk, either crouching or standing. Walking while crouched is extremely quiet, but also very slow.

Thief: DS’s dependance on sound couldn’t be accomplished without good audio programming, and players will find themselves using audio cues very regularly throughout the game. With a decent pair of headphones, the game’s audio really shines, as players can actually detect the direction and approximate distance of enemy footsteps.

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