Video Game / Thief: The Dark Project

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"What the hell is a taffer, anyway?"

Thief: The Dark Project is a 1998 first-person stealth game, and the first of the Thief series. It was designed by Looking Glass Studios and published by Eidos Interactive.

It begins with Garrett as a young street urchin being found by an organization called the Keepers, who taught him in the ways of stealth and balance before he left the organization to pursue a career as thief. He soon finds himself entangled in a conflict between the forces of order and chaos.

The following year, Thief Gold was released, adding three new levels and a host of bugfixes.

Along with Metal Gear Solid (released the same year), it is regarded as one of the first video games to pioneer the modern stealth genre.


This game provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The Downwind Thieves' Guild is headquartered in the sewers beneath the Overlord's Fancy tavern and illegal casino.
  • Action-Based Mission: Later levels in the game emphasise combat over stealth and exploration.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: A Keeper outpost has one as a booby trap.
  • Affably Evil: Constantine. At least until his reveal as the Big Bad.
  • All Webbed Up: One type of the big arachnid enemies has this as its special power. It's better not to even get too close into its firing range and snipe him with the bow from a safe distance.
    • Also revealed to be the fate of Giry, the informant Garret planned to meet in "Song of the Caverns."
  • Always Check Behind the Chair: Aside from the obvious aspect of searching everywhere for loot and items, the mission "Undercover" requires doing this in order to find five switches hidden in the environment.
  • Always Night: There are only two missions set during daytime, and even in those, you spend most of your time indoors or in an abandoned old mine.
  • Ancient Tomb: The missions "Down in the Bonehoard" and "The Lost City".
  • And I Must Scream: The Hammer Haunts are in eternal torment, judging by their patrol dialogue.
  • Arrows on Fire: A staple in Garrett's arsenal. Unusual in that rather than setting enemies on fire, they instead explode on impact.
  • Ballistic Bone: The hammerite apparitions attack by launching ghostly skulls. There's also a strange skeleton in the mines below Cragscleft Prison that launches its head at Garrett and disappears with no explanation or acknowledgment of any kind.
  • Big Bad: Constantine, a.k.a. The Trickster.
  • Bizarrchitecture: Constantine's mansion in the mission "The Sword". The first floor and forward area of the mansion appears normal but the further you go, the more weird it gets. Some examples:
    • In the Gold version, there's the Brobdignag section. (There is a Lilliputian section as well.)
    • Large sections of the upper floors are rotated so that, e.g. the ceiling looks like a floor and vice versa, including having upside-down or sideways furniture.
    • In the greenhouses, search the ceilings until you find the section that is actually water. You can climb up through it into a tub of water in the room above.
    • In the deepest part of the mansion, weird twisting tile hallways and perspective-warped corridors are interwoven with mossy green tunnels going straight through the structure. At this point, the thought may strike that the architect is just screwing with you. And he is - it's all a test.
    • When you visit the mansion, it's possible to encounter a doorway opening on what appears to be outer space, with distant and apparently unreachable fragments of mansion hovering in the starry void.
  • Bookcase Passage: One can be found in the mansion in "Assassins." Also present in the Thief Gold missions "Thieves' Guild" and "The Mage Towers."
  • Bow and Sword, in Accord: Garrett carries both a bow and a sword, though the bow sees more use for delivery mechanism for Trick Arrows than killing people, and the sword is a last-resort weapon, not his primary. If the player is very good, they will never use the sword.
  • Break the Badass: The cutscene of The Trickster revealing himself and Garrett getting his eye torn off stands out as being the only time you ever see the normally unshakable Garrett being visibly terrified.
  • The Computer Shall Taunt You: Human enemies will mock Garrett if you try to hit them with your blackjack while they can see you.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Played completely straight, touching lava directly means instant death but otherwise it might as well be glowy water.
  • Devil, but No God: Partially averted. We never see The Builder, but we do see (and kill) The Trickster.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: By the end of the game, you kill The Trickster, the devil figure of the entire in-game universe, with a magic bomb.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After going through some of the scariest and most intense scenes in first person game history, you finally have a moment to breathe at the end. Until the Sequel Hook.
  • Edible Collectible: None of the food items you can pick up and eat have any effect, with the exception of the mysterious healing fruits you can find towards the end of the game.
  • Eldritch Location: Besides the Old Quarter and the Lost City, Constantine's mansion. The first few halls are quite conventional, but once you infiltrate it deeper, the weirdness starts, and it's quite unsettling.
  • Enemy Chatter: You can eavesdrop to quite a few conversations, most commonly between two guards. A certain discussion about the "Bear pits" and the state of modern bears you can overhear at the beginning of the game is one of the most famous examples of this trope.
    Guard: They just don't make bears like they used to...
  • Equipment Upgrade: Partway through the story your basic sword gets replaced by a new one. While it deals the same amount of damage as the previous version, holding it doesn't make Garrett more visible to enemies the way the normal blade does.
  • Exploding Barrels: Red ones, of course. Unlike in most games however, they don't tend to be very practical for taking out enemies due to their locations and loudness.
  • Eye Scream: Garrett suffered from one when the Trickster betrayed him. We later see a brief, detailed close-up of the shriveled, bloody gap in his face.
  • First-Person Ghost
  • Floating Platforms: Present in the titular Earth and Air towers in the mission "The Mage Towers."
  • Hand of Glory: One of the objectives of the Cragscleft Prison section is to retrieve Garrett's lucky Hand of Glory from the beggar, Issyt who somehow managed to smuggle the Hand with him into the prison.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: How the Trickster eventually meets his end.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: While Garrett's various tools wouldn't take an impossible amount of space, the same can't be said of the mountains of loot you pick up during missions which includes large vases and even giant rugs.
  • Instant Sedation: Gas arrows will knock people and other living things out instantly from any range, making them one of the rarest and most valuable items in the game.
  • Justified Tutorial: The tutorial takes place when Garrett was still being trained in the arts of stealth by the Keepers.
  • Locked Door: Plenty of them, but most of them yield easily before Garrett and his dual lockpicks.
  • Marathon Level: The "Thieves' Guild" level. First there's the restaurant, then the casino, then the sewer passage to Reuben's place, then...you get the picture.
  • Mle Trois: The game has the potential for this in any level where multiple types of AIs are around, e.g. "The Haunted Cathedral", "The Lost City". Zombies will attack anything alive, for example, not just the player; fire elementals will attack at least some types of living AIs; and so on.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Despite numerous warning signs, Garrett still hands over The Eye to Constantine and his greed for the reward money nearly ends up dooming mankind.
  • No Arc in Archery: Curiously enough, all arrows arc like you'd expect them to except for Fire and Gas Arrows that fly in a completely straight line, no matter how slowly they're launched.
  • Notice This: Most valuables that can be looted are golden in color to make them stand out from the environment and to differentiate them from objects with no value. Especially noticeable when you come across golden wine bottles.
  • Oh Crap!: Garrett, when he realizes not only that The Trickster is real, but that The Hammers' crazy prophecy about the end of the world is really happening AND Garrett's own greed made it happen!
  • The Order: The Hammerites, a group of anti-Pagan, anti-nature, intensely conservative Church Militants that Garrett runs into on occasion. However, they're not as much of a problem in this game as an offshoot of their's is in the sequel. Garrett even temporarily allies with the Hammerites to help them thwart the Big Bad and his plan.
  • Oxygen Meter: Appears in the lower right corner whenever you are swimming underwater in the first two games. Since the third game has no swimming mechanic, the meter doesn't make an appearance in that one.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The Keepers. They have access to prophecy and have master spies in every shadow, but they don't seem to actually act on any of this information, even when catastrophe looms. Somewhat justified, as this is one of the implied reasons Garrett quit.
  • Plot Coupons: At one point, Garrett has to find the four keys to a locked cathedral.
  • Refusal of the Call: Garrett does not want to be a Keeper or to be involved in their plots. This doesn't stop The Keepers from seeking Garrett out.
    Artemus: You cannot run from life as you did from us, Garrett. Life has a way of finding you, no matter how artistic a sneak you are.
    Garrett: Tell my friends that I don't need their secret book, or their glyph warnings, or their messengers. Tell them I'm through. Tell them it's
    Artemus: (after Garrett departs) I will tell them this: Nothing has changed. All is as written. The Trickster is dead. Beware the dawn of the Metal Age.
  • Retirony: A variation - Garrett expresses his intention to retire after stealing the Eye from the cathedral, before the Trickster betrays him and leaves him for dead.
  • Reviving Enemy: Zombies, if you try to kill them via conventional means. Holy water arrows, explosives and curiously enough, Flash Bombs, can all take them down permanently however.
  • Sequel Hook: A rather clever one at the very end of the game's final cutscene. (Quoted in the Refusal of the Call entry.) Combined with some of the imagery present there, it also doubles as a Title Drop, since the final words are "The Metal Age" - part of the sequel's title. Thankfully, this is one sequel hook didn't go to waste. The sequel was published in early 2000.
  • Sequence Breaking: Possible in a few levels, most notably "Return to the Cathedral" could be skipped almost in its entirety in the non-Gold version of the game by blocking the cathedral's exit before it gets locked.
  • Sidetrack Bonus: So much is hidden off the beaten path that most of the game consists of searching optional areas for loot and useful goodies.
  • Soft Water
  • Sprint Shoes: Speed Potions give a temporary boost to movement speed, but in a game that encourages you to be stealthy and methodical, their usefulness tends to be limited.
  • Stalking Mission: The first part of "Assassins" has you track the titular assassins through the city streets and back to their employer.
  • Thieves' Guild: Garrett's not interested in sharing his profits. The local guild bosses are less than pleased. One baron gives him trouble and giving it right back is the object of a mission in the game. There's also a mission in Thief Gold that requires you to directly infiltrate the Downwind Thieves' Guild, and steal something that the guild's bosses are arguing about.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Averted via a Bag of Spilling approach to buying new equipment for your inventory between missions. Not only can't you keep items you don't use, you can't even keep the extra cash if you don't buy them. So the game encourages you to spend your hard-earned cash on more equipment you might need for another mission.
  • Updated Re-release: As Thief Gold in 1999. Bugs were fixed, some levels were improved upon or added to, and three new misions were introduced: "Thieves' Guild", "The Mage Towers" and "Song of the Caverns".
  • Underground Level: "Escape from Cragscleft Prison", "Down in the Bonehoard", "Thieves' Guild", "The Lost City", part of "Song of the Caverns", "Strange Bedfellows", "The Maw of Chaos".
  • Unnecessarily Large Interior: The Halls of Echoing Repose, from the mission "Down in the Bonehoard", as well as the Brobdignagian area in Constantine's Mansion in the Gold version of the mission "The Sword".
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Well, you can either simply bypass guards and/or knock them out with your blackjack. Or you could run around stabbing them from behind, knocking them out and throwing them off cliffs/into water to drown/into lava...
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Only on harder difficulties does doing the above yield a mission failure (usually, some missions require no death whatsoever), but it's still there.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Viktoria, Constantine/The Trickster's emissary (and the one who removed Garrett's eye) doesn't appear for the rest of the game. She does re-appear in the sequel... and when Garrett sees her, he is ready to kill her at once.
  • Who Forgot the Lights?: While darkness is usually your ally in the game, some unlit areas areas are so dark that you can barely see ahead of you without adjusting the gamma setting.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Constantine to Garrett, in a memorably horrific fashion after revealing himself as The Trickster.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: "Song of the Caverns" seems to go by blindingly fast, with the player reaching the Water Talisman shrine after passing through just a couple of caves... Then it turns out someone else got to the Talisman before you, and the rest of the level is dedicated to searching the large Opera House for it.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/ThiefTheDarkProject