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Video Game / Thief: Deadly Shadows

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Cry, Brethren, for the Betrayer is come. Your hands will be crippled, and you will perish as the wretched outcast in the Bleak Unwritten. And you will know the face of the Destroyer.
Recovered text from The Propecitus, missing for 132 years

Thief: Deadly Shadows is the third game of the Thief series. It was developed by Ion Storm, with many Looking Glass employees moving there, and published in 2004 by Eidos Interactive. A new sequel didn't emerge until a decade later.

Along with missions like in the first two games, you can now control Garrett through The City to go between areas and missions, pickpocket occasional passers-by and obtain additional sidequests. It also included perspective switches and the ability to stand against walls as a stealth mechanic.

The same year also saw a mobile phone tie-in.

The first game concentrated its storyline on the Hammerites and the Pagans, the second game on the Mechanists essentially replacing the former, and Deadly Shadows finally shows more insight into the Keepers and the challenges they face. Though Garrett still insists on wanting no association with the order after he left them at a younger age, he's more willing to cooperate with them after the events of the second game. Slowly but surely, he's drawn into a growing string of mysteries from the Keepers' past...

This game includes examples of:

  • Abandoned Area: Shalebridge Cradle, a former orphanage and insane asylum, and former base of The Hag, which Garrett visits towards the end of the game to get key information to solve a long-running mystery.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: A handful of locations (including the Clock Tower and the Moira Manor) have small passageways that are big enough to climb through, and often have rats and bits of minor loot.
  • Always Night: As per series tradition, the entirety of the game takes place at night, with no in-universe justification as to why there is no daytime whatsoever. (Mission briefings refer to each mission as part of "Day X.")
  • Ancient Tomb: The tombs of Fort Ironwood are fairly old and spooky, and also relevant to the main plot and a few sidequests.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • When roaming the City hub world, the first time Garrett gets "killed" by the City Watch, he'll be taken to Pavelock Prison, a sort of bonus-level where Garrett is locked in a prison cell, when a brainless guard basically hands him the keys to escape. Rather than punish new players who aren't used to the game yet for their mistakes, the Pavelock Prison level allows players a second chance to get a handle on what to do, how to move, how to sneak, how to steal, etc... and even introduces the oil flask gadget. And to cap it all, the prison is only one level, rather than story missions which are split into two areas, meaning it isn't too long or confusing. Contrarily, it's actually very linear.
    • In a change from the first two games, Garrett no longer loses his amassed money and/or special arrows/bombs between levels, ostensibly to give the player much more flexibility in terms of enemy engagement. This becomes most notable when engaging the undead under Fort Ironwood or on the Abysmal Gale, which normally requires high usage of Flashbombs, Holy Water and/or Oil Flasks — which are all in long supply at the various stores throughout the City.
    • To save on clicking, merely hitting the sweet spot during the lockpicking minigame and hovering on it for a couple seconds will automatically unlock the tumbler. While taking a little longer to complete, this is much less taxing for players.
  • Ascended Fanboy: By this time, Garrett seems to have a lot of admirers among co-workers as well as foes. One petty crook tries to pass himself off as Garrett to a possible customer (and fails). A female example that occurs is Marla Madison, a young fence that is basically Garrett's "greatest fangirl". Predictably, Garrett has a good laugh at the impostor's expense and is fairly annoyed by Marla's ditzy advances.
  • Bedlam House/Abandoned Hospital: The Shalebridge Cradle was this before it became an abandoned wellspring of evil, but after it was an orphanage. Notes left around the place tell how bad it was. Level designer Jordan Thomas says that the establishment's creators honestly meant well and were quite forward-thinking, but tremendous costs, the class divide, primitive techniques and a series of disasters turned the place into a nightmarish cage. For example, a clockmaker checked himself in after a nervous episode, was treated, and pronounced fit to leave. Due to a mix-up, he was then accidentally given extremely painful electroshock therapy, turning him into a massive headcase who had to be locked up with the most dangerous patients.
  • Big Fancy Castle: Rutherford Castle in the first proper mission.
  • Big Fancy House: The Overlook Manor of the Moira family is the mansion mission of the game. The building somewhat subverts the trope by being spacious and cosy, but not all that opulent or luxurious. The whole dwelling looks as if it has seen better days.
  • Blamed for Being Railroaded: In one mission, you can meet a blind, delusional widow who owns the mansion you've broken into in search of a MacGuffin. You also find a note from her late husband explaining that the large bag of money in a nearby chest should allow her to live well without him. If you don't steal the money, a few levels later she sends you a letter and a gift. Unfortunately, on expert difficulty, you have to take the money to meet the 90% loot requirement... which causes her to send an assassin after you instead. Notably, the Sneaky Upgrade community mod changes the loot list to allow the player to steal 100% of the loot in the Manor without taking the applicable item.
  • The Blank: The Shalebridge Cradle has the staff of the orphanage-turned-asylum, shadowy silhouettes created from the memory of the Cradle, representing the faceless authority of the adults keeping order between the children and patients.
  • Blank Book: In the ending, the entire Keeper library of prophecies collected over the centuries becomes just a collection of blank books after all the glyphs disappear.
  • Body Horror: Pretty much anything to do with The Hag. She does much worse than eat children alive. In fact, eating a child alive would be kind compared to what she does to at least one. Then there's her body, which is a vaguely humanoid mass of flesh studded with eyes and mouths, most of which do not appear to be under her control.
  • Book Ends: Ends the same way that The Dark Project began, only Garrett stated Artemus' lines at this time.
  • Call-Back: In the intro cinematic, there are two brief but intense flashback montages nodding back to the storyline and events of the previous two games.
  • Continuity Nod: In a similar manner to the call backs in the opening sequence, there are plentiful continuity nods to the characters and events from The Dark Project and The Metal Age strewn throughout the whole game.
  • Cosmetic Award: This time around, the game has several items that can either be acquired or unlocked for Garrett's apartment.
    • The "Practice Locks" are a semi-example — they cost a good chunk of cash to acquire, but their importance is functionally-useless, as the player can already get practice on locks throughout the game to not need to rely on them.
    • Decide to leave the inheritance the widow in Moira Manor had left by her late husband, and she will reward you later in the game with a letter and an expensive bottle of wine you can find waiting for you at your apartment.
    • Completing the Pagan sidequest (fire Moss Arrows at all 15 cornerstones throughout the City) will result in them dropping off a miniature tree at your apartment that confers a trio of Moss Arrows.
  • Creator Cameo: All those paintings of male and female nobles appearing throughout the game.... They're actually portraits of the game's developers, in period clothing!
  • Crystal Ball: First Keeper Orland keeps a scrying bowl in his office so he may spy on other Keepers.
  • Cute Ghost Girl: Lauryl from the infamously haunted Shalebridge Cradle isn't all that scary once you get to know her. She's a subversion of sorts, since she appears as a ghostly blob of light with the shadow of a small girl. She's helpful and kindly, showing Garrett various clues about the Cradle's dark past and guiding him out. After both of them leave the Cradle and enter the alleys of Old Quarter, the guards start fleeing in terror at the sight of Lauryl's ghostly appearance. For once, Garrett can take it easy with stealth in the City's streets. Funny stuff.
  • Dead Sidekick: Lauryl, briefly during the lead-up to the final mission. She will accompany Garrett (still in his ethereal form) throughout the City, causing any bystander who looks at her to run away screaming in response!
  • Developer's Foresight: If you never sell the Kurshok Crown, you won't have to steal it in the final level (and Garrett's voiced narration actually changes to reflect the fact that he has three of the five needed items, even pointing out that he - i.e. the player — was smart not to sell it). But they don't make it easy for you: if you didn't sell the Crown, but head for the fence who buys stolen jewelry after exiting the Museum with all the other loot, you can accidentally sell the Kurshok Crown and break the ending because you cannot buy back the Crown. So the seemingly hard way is actually the easier way: If you do sell the Crown, and have to steal it from the Museum, the Crown becomes a protected item and you will be unable to accidentally sell it, a handy feature in the chaos and confusion at the end of the game.
  • Due to the Dead: Inspector Drept has a plaque in his office honoring Lauryl, promising to avenge her death.
  • Easily Forgiven: Two of the early missions require Garrett to steal priceless artifacts of Hammerites and Pagans, which also involves robbing both of the places blind and possibly knocking unconscious or even killing various people in there. This, understandably, makes both factions rather mad at Garrett. What does it take for them to go from being hostile to considering him an ally? Why, just killing about 6 oversized bugs and covering about 7 cornerstones with moss, respectively.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: After overhearing a thief impersonating him, Garrett snarks "So that's the famous Garrett, huh? He's not as handsome as I'd imagined."
  • Eye Scream: Deadly Shadows reintroduces Garrett to his missing eye, which talks to him and suggests that one day it may remove the other eye.
  • Faking the Dead: Garrett is forced into this in order to escape the Shalebridge Cradle.
  • Fate and Prophecy Tropes: Prophecy has always had an important place in the series, but as Deadly Shadows focuses strongly on the Keepers, this particular game is swarming with applicable tropes.
    • Blind Seer: Interpreter Caduca is blind, but can "read" the glyphs by touching them. Blindness isn't a requirement of the position, and her predecessor praised her for the unique clarity she had when reading the glyphs in this manner when he recommended her for promotion into his role.
    • The Fatalist: The Keepers, right up until they reach a prophecy that suggests the end of their role. Then they're all in favor of trying to Screw Destiny. Garrett fits this more by the end of the game than they do.
    • Not So Omniscient After All: The Keepers love to play The Omniscient and their Omniscient Morality License for all it's worth, given they have a vast body of accurate (if vague) prophecy that they've used to successfully influence the City over centuries. This game is one big Not So Omniscient... moment for them as the edifice of prophecy starts to fall down around their ears by prophesying its own end.
      Keeper: Gone... what will we do? What will become of The City without us?
    • The Prophecy: Prophecy is a mess. It's not a single prophecy, but untold hundreds of fragmentary prophecies uncovered through scribes engaging in automatic writing, as well as from ancient books. Most of them refer to one another, providing clues for how to interpret each other so that with intensive study one might glean a useful fact about the future. "Useful" if you can guess accurately who they even refer to, since they identify people not by names but by titles like "Brethren and Betrayer," which may get reused across different prophecies as different people play the same roles. (Garrett was almost certainly the Brethren and Betrayer of earlier games, but it seems to point to the Big Bad in this game.) And some of the glyphs are rewriting themselves immediately after being written.
    • Prophecies Are Always Right: They're often vague, but glyph prophecies haven't been proven conclusively wrong once in the series. Garrett has managed to thwart the previous two dark ages warned about by the glyphs, but the prophecies are not merely warning the Keepers about the Unwritten Times, they are coming.
    • Prophecy Twist: Several. A big one in particular is that when "time stops" then the "evil one(s)" will be pointed out. Garrett stops the clock tower, but in so doing accidentally causes it to collapse and point straight at First Keeper Orland's office in the Keeper Compound. But it wasn't pointing at Orland so much as the Keepers in general, calling them out on the dangers of their secrecy and complacency.
    • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The Keepers want to watch what happens, because they don't think it's their place to get involved, even when glyphs and events refer to them directly. Their reluctance to act enables certain prophecies to come true.
    • Sliding Scale of Free Will vs. Fate: Firmly on the side of Because Destiny Says So but the Unwritten Times come with the destruction of glyph magic, suggesting all along prophecy would eventually screw itself.
    • Tomes of Prophecy and Fate: Hundreds if not thousands of tomes of prophecy collected in the Keeper Compound, with one that Garrett has to find (along with a magic key to open it). The Big Bad has spent years stealing away important tomes with secrets of her defeat.
    • Vagueness Is Coming: The "Unwritten Times" where the Keepers' prophecies fail are foretold in some of their rarest tomes. There's precious little detail on what these Times actually involve or how to avert them. Garrett causes them because it's literally the only way to stop the Big Bad now that she's warded herself to invulnerability with glyph magic.
    • Waif Prophet: Translator Gamall, Caduca's apprentice. She is very young but has uncanny insight in translating the glyphs despite her age, though she has been shown to require correction from Caduca at least once. Subverted as she is secretly the Hag, the true villain of the game who used shapeshifting magic to steal the form of a young girl years ago so she could insinuate herself into the Keepers as an apprentice and work her way into a position of power and control. Gamall carefully crafted everything about this persona.
    • You Can't Fight Fate: The Unwritten Times may not have come true if the villain hadn't worked so hard to prevent it. Everything she did resulted in the pieces being in the right place for Garrett to find them and put together her secrets.
  • Fertile Blood: The intro for the first mission dealing with Pagans shows a Pagan cutting his palm in order to "water" a plant, which then grows exponentially faster than normal.
  • Fish People: The Kurshok. Surprisingly, they're not in allegiance with the Pagans like most of the other non-human races - it's subtly hinted that the Trickster cast them below the earth.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • A very subtle and well-done job throughout the whole game foreshadowing the Hag as the true villain. Frequent but low-key references create a constant background hum that builds up the feel of a creepy urban legend very effectively.
    • Related, in that Caduca corrects little Gamall on getting a translation wrong. Gamall did it intentionally, hinting she's not all what she claims to be, and is malevolent.
  • Frame-Up: Midway through the game, Garrett is taken into custody and put on trial for the murder of Caduca, to such an extent that he is functionally "restrained" to a chair imbued with a glyph at its perimeter that doesn't allow him to escape. He takes the first opportunity possible to slip his captors and escape, and for most of the remainder of the plot, he is pursued by Keeper "Enforcers" that will stalk him throughout the City.
  • Friendly Enemy: The Hammerites and Pagans, initially, hold this attitude towards Garrett once they write to him after stealing the Builder's Chalice and Jacknall's Paw (sacred items), respectively. Compare this to the previous games, where both factions were out-and-out enemies and would generally attack Garrett on sight. (The Pagans justify their changed stance by noting that Viktoria, who sacrificed herself in the final mission of the last game is the only reason why they haven't explicitly gone after him.) Do a few odd jobs for either of them (kill Iron Mites or shoot Moss Arrows into black cornerstones) and they'll warmly welcome you into their strongholds — even allowing Garrett to take one of their prized items in the final mission if you're on "Allied" terms with the Pagans.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Gamall's true form.
  • Hub Level: The City streets that Garrett visits between missions. This is a departure from earlier games in the series, where Garret can go to fence his ill-gotten goods, pick up a little extra loot, buy the tools of his trade, and even do a few Side Quests should the mood take him.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Unlike the previous entries, where Garrett would either voluntarily (or forcibly) lose the majority of his stockpile of trick arrows and items between levels, the game lets you keep Garrett's acquired cash, loot and items between levels, making it a much more prevalent example of this trope. At maximum, Garrett can carry nearly 100 trick arrows of various types, multiple types of anti-undead equipment (five flasks of Holy Water and five Oil Flasks), flashbombs and explosive mines.
  • Justified Tutorial: Pavelock Prison, in the event that Garrett is "killed" by the City Watch for the first time. You need to escape from prison, and the game will give you a refresher course (by necessity) on how to sneak, steal and escape — while also teaching the usage of Oil Flasks, which will come in handy during later missions.
  • Knife Fight: Garrett has traded his shorter sword from the previous two games for a stealthier simple dagger. It's also slightly less tricky for occasional backstabs than the sword was. There is a dummied out, ultimately unused model for the third game's sword, but it was ditched early in development, when the team decided to emphasise that players should avoid swordfights.
  • Knockout Gas: Gas bombs are a new addition to Garrett's arsenal, and though he can't carry more than five, they're excellent for knocking out small crowds of people without the use of a blackjack. The gas mines from the previous games don't make an appearance, though.
  • Lockpicking Minigame: Tumblers are represented by three to six rings (depending on the lock complexity) that appear in the bottom-right corner of the screen when picking a lock. Each ring has an opening on it that is invisible at first and has to be located with the mouse-controlled pick based on subtle clues (like sounds made by the lock). Once the opening on the outermost ring is found, its tumbler is set, and Garret moves on to the next one; setting all tumblers opens the lock.
  • The Magic Goes Away: The end of the trilogy has all of the Glyphs vanishing, removing all of the magic from the town — save the last Glyph that resides on Garrett's right hand.
  • Meaningful Name: The word "Gamall" is Scandinavian (and Tolkien-talk) for "old".
  • Mle Trois: The climax of the game is a massive melee throughout the city streets between the City Watch, Hammerites, Pagans, and the Big Bad's animated statues. The more factions that are friendly or at least neutral towards Garrett, the easier it is to make it through alive.
  • Mistaken for Granite: In the later levels, the seemingly-innocuous statues you pass in the Lower Libraries of the Keeper Compound become animated and attack Garrett once The Hag casts a spell on them.
  • Mystical City Planning: This game reveals The City to be the Final Glyph that, when activated, drains all power from the rest of the glyphs that the Keeper magic is based upon.
  • Neutral No Longer: The Keepers are no longer just balancing Order Versus Chaos as they had with the Hammerites and Pagans. The new threat comes from within the Keepers themselves.
  • No OSHA Compliance: According to the briefing before the "Stopping Time" mission, more people have been killed by the gears of the city clocktower than the blade of the City's guillotine.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The state of the Keepers at the conclusion as all of the Glyphs have vanished and their tower is now visible to anyone. As one Keeper laments, "What will become of the city without us?" As Garret is the only person who owns a Glyph now, he becomes the leader of the Keepers and its implied they're running fine with him in charge.
  • Parental Substitute: Of the three games in the trilogy, this installment is the most open about implying that Artemus and Garrett have something of a father-son type of bond, in addition to Artemus being his original mentor.
  • Red Herring: In Deadly Shadows, Garrett is led to believe that First Keeper Orland is the traitor when the ruins of the collapsed city clocktower point to his office.
  • Revisiting the Roots: Deadly Shadows is in many ways a blend of the sensibilities of the first two games, but it recalls the style of the first one a bit more, without being a homage. It has a tighter story focus, more firmly medieval set dressing with less overt steampunk, a slightly more supernatural tone, and a smaller, humbler assortment of gadgets. All this while also keeping the narrative and gameplay focus on The City and on the mundane heist missions, just like the second game.
  • Stealth Pun: In one of the main missions, you have to break into a clocktower operated by the Hammerites and sabotage the mechanism, causing the clock to stop. In other words, you have to stop hammer time.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Garrett can't swim anymore. Thankfully, no one else can either, not even the Big Bad. What bodies of water there are in-game are either too shallow to drown in, or require the player drowning Garrett on purpose.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: One of the few Restrictions placed on certain levels makes it so that Garrett can not and will not attack, knock out or kill Keepers, under penalty of instantly failing the mission.
  • Title Drop: A Keeper prophecy talks of "deadly shadows" rising.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Though the Bag of Spilling approach of the previous two games is averted in the third game, you're also given the in-game tip about hoarding loot being pointless, and are encouraged to invest in buying equipment whenever you need it.
  • Too Dumb to Live: At one point, you can listen to two nobles talking about how they found the secret tunnel two thieves used for their attempt to rob the Wieldstrom museum, and plan to use it to break in for a lark. Said nobles seem to be forgetting that the reason the thieves failed was because the museum has lethal security precautions in place. As one of them argues, "But it would be such fun!".
  • Trick Bomb: Hand-thrown gas bombs are introduced as a new gadget in addition to the classic flashbombs, but all mines outside of the basic explosive mines are not available in this installment.
  • Tricked-Out Gloves: Climbing gloves replace the rope arrows from the first two games. They have a more limited use, though, and the player is only required to use them on one or two occasions. Their use beyond that is completely optional.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: In the Overlook Mansion mission, you come across Captain Moira's widow, who politely asks you to bring her a glass of wine. If you do so (and don't steal her inheritance on the way out), later on she'll send you an expensive bottle of wine along with a letter thanking you for your kindness.
    • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Of course, if you do steal the inheritance (which is unfortunately required on Expert difficulty, unless you're using the unofficial Gold Edition patch), she'll send a loyal servant to kill you instead.
  • Villain Ball: Gamall gets an example of this in Deadly Shadows. She was smart enough to take the Glyph of Unbinding away from the Keepers, but she didn't destroy it or put it somewhere where nobody could find it. Instead, she took it to her lair. On top of this, she wrote a crazed rant about it in which she explained why Garret would want it (it destroys her stone guardians), how he can utilize it (bind it to his blackjack), and how to use it (smack the golem in the back of the head with it). Last but not least, she left this rant right next to the Glyph itself.
  • Villainous Breakdown: "Come back to me.... come back to me...."
  • Visibility Meter: The Light Gem is a magical item Garrett carries to tell him how illuminated he is. When it's mostly dark, he is as well-hidden as it gets; when it's bright yellow, he is shining like a Roman candle.
  • Who Watches the Watchmen?: In Deadly Shadows, it's clear that the Keepers have become this. While they obsessively watch and chronicle other factions and events in The City, they record very little of their own history. This is what allowed Gamall the ability to rise unchecked. One note in the game even asks the question: "Who keeps the Keepers?"

Alternative Title(s): Deadly Shadows