When All Else Fails-Improvise
I’m a person of simple tastes. Specific yes, but simple. Engage my mind. Make me feel. And don’t skimp on the aesthetics. Thief delivers on all three. Much like Garrett delivers the (stolen) goods. He doesn’t disappoint and neither does this game. Mostly. Now, this is not a game play review. There are tons of those. This one is really good and fair and I agree with him on most points.
For my part I did enjoy the game play. I found it absolutely exhilarating. No, what I want to discuss is the story line and characters, which if you are familiar with my blog you will understand. I do love my bad boys. And Garrett is by no means exempt from that category.
Thief is a reboot of the original Thief series first released as Thief: The Dark Project in 1998. It became a cult classic and is still regarded as the defining the stealth genre. Thief (2014) was my introduction to the franchise and to Garrett. If you want discussion on how the reboot uses elements of the old games I suggest browsing the forums. I did not play the old games and won’t be discussing anything from them. This is a fresh perspective.
Garrett is a very interesting character. The design alone was enough to get me interested. But we all know how I like my short, dark and lithe. Well, except Loki, but he’s a god so that doesn’t count. And Deadpool is just…Deadpool and I love him for his mind anyway. Anyway, on to the game. There will be major spoilers so read at your own risk. I highly recommend playing the game through spoiler free as it really ups the enjoyment and anticipation factors. You can get it on virtually every platform known to man. I personally have it both on my computer and my PS3 but I’m obsessive.
A Light in the Dark
Video games have the unenviable task of having to be both fun to play but challenging and having an engaging story line and likable characters. As Rhianna Pratchett (who has been involved with hugely successful games like Tomb Raider and Bioshock: Inifnite) took to the forums at escapist to explain just what makes writing games so much more difficult than writing for film or television.
My role is to take what they have, flesh it out and get it working in the game within the boundaries set by the developer – be they time, budget, design etc. What you get to work with can vary depending on how far development has already progressed. There’s likely to be some spine of a story, some levels designed (in Mirror’s Edge’s case a whole game) and often a bit of character work. By and large it’s at least what the developer will have needed for their pitch doc/proof of concept/green light etc. and enough to get folks actually building stuff. The reason I (and other games writers) talk about the need to get writers/narrative designers in earlier is it would make our role a whole lot easier and more satisfying if *we* helped originate this kind of stuff. When you work as a hired-gun, rather than an imbedded writer, that hardly ever happens. Sometimes this is because the devs want to do it themselves, or they don’t know where to find a games writer. Perhaps they’re just not ready yet, or not used to thinking about story and writer at the same time. Often there can be an assumption that the ‘word bits’ are easy, cheap and that can easily be slipped in somewhere down the line. These attitudes unfortunately bypasses the skills that writers/narrative designers have for character and world building. Something that, you’d think, could be pretty useful to the development process. (http://www.blastr.com/2014-3-4/rhianna-pratchett-reveals-why-writing-videogames-harder-any-other-medium?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter)
Fortunately it seems that Thief managed to get a lot right on both accounts. The story line had me playing till 2am three nights in row because I HAD to find out what happened in the next chapter (I don’t play during the day due to having young children). Yes, I enjoyed the game play, pick pocketing, breaking and entering running along the rooftops and various other fun things, but it was the main story line that captivated my interest. Well, that and Garrett himself. The opening sequence Garret talks about the fact that anything can be bought, even trust. “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” But as he says none of that matters because when has he ever paid for anything?
This short monologue foreshadows so much in the game it’s not even funny. Not everything is paid for in coin. And thus begins the prologue: The Drop. We soon meet Erin, and the reunion is bittersweet. It’s obvious the two of them did not part on the best of terms. The tension is palpable with Erin taunting Garrett in what seems like a sarcastic manner but that actually hides a deep seated anger and resentment towards him. “I can handle myself, okay. I can climb faster, I can move faster…” While Garrett is cautious to the point of being wary, Erin is compulsive and violent. Yet he still feels responsible for her. He cuts in, “You can kill faster, make mistakes faster. I get it. You’re not in control.”
Erin blows him off. “Well that’s why I’m better. Deal with it.” She completely dismisses his concern for her because she feels personally attacked for her lifestyle choices. Her focus is on how much she can steal even trying to make bet on who can take more on their way to the location of their job. When he shows up she makes fun of him for not taking as much as she felt he should have. He responds, “It’s not about how much you steal, but what you steal.” Here again we see the difference in their approach to their ‘trade.’
This becomes starkly evident when Erin kills a guard at the Baron’s mansion. Garrett is furious. He only kills if it’s absolutely necessary and Erin knows this. She retorts that the dead guard won’t wake up to follow their trail. He knows that if they aren’t long gone by the time the guard wakes up something is very, very wrong. That she would even consider that shows him that she doesn’t care that she’s sloppy and that life has little value to her. Garrett is obviously worried it’s going to get her killed. This dialog from him is also a clue to the player on how best to approach game play. Avoid detection and avoid combat unless absolutely necessary. Garrett is not a ninja or assassin, he’s a thief and it very quickly becomes evident that combat is not his forte. Neither should it be.
Then Erin goes and gets herself killed.
At least that’s what Garrett believes when he wakes up after the accident. He quickly realizes that something significant has changed. Upon arriving at the clock tower that he calls home it becomes clear that he’s been gone much longer than he ever considered. This scene tells us a lot about him. He quietly takes in the evidence and then makes a decision. He goes to Basso who confronts him demanding to know where he’s been for the last year. Garrett’s surprise is subtle a look and a shift in his stance, a whole year is just gone and he doesn’t know the answer to the question. Basso is frustrated thinking that Garrett just doesn’t want to say. Garrett asks for a job, most likely wanting Basso to not question him any further.
Next he goes to the Beggar Queen knowing that if anyone has answers she will. She claims not to know everything, only ‘the important things.’ Garrett is visibly unsettled when she asks why he’s there. He takes a moment to gather himself before facing her to ask what happened to him and Erin. Here is when we see the guilt trickling in. She tells him that they found him after the accident and took him in, healed him but that after a while something began to wake him and so they took him home. However, it is interesting to note that her account doesn’t quite gel with what we find out later. There is still a lot of missing time between when he was found and when he woke up in the cart. She mentions taking him out of the city to keep him safe. This was a red flag to me. Where did they take him and for how long? There are hints later on but nothing definitive. She tells him that if he wants to know what happened the city itself will tell him. This is another huge hint as to what is actually happening.
The Queen of Beggars herself is a very interesting side character, much like Basso. They feel very real and solid. Their dialog is believable and very well done by their respective voice actors. I personally would like to see more of both if there is another game. There is a lot of untapped potential in both of them. I especially like the concept of the Queen of Beggars. A old blind woman who has coordinated the beggars into what amounts to a spy network. Brilliant.
As Garrett leaves she warns him. “There are worse things in the dark than you.” This is yet another HUGE hint to what’s coming in later chapters.
Getting the ring of the man’s corpse requires a trip to the foundry. The foundry itself was disgusting as is appropriate since it was a holding and processing stage for the cremation of the dead. It didn’t help that I could imagine the smell. The bits of floating ash as well as the piles of it in the tunnels were suitably unsettling considering where the ash came from. The interior gets worse. Bodies are treated like animals for slaughter, hug up on hooks and strung through the foundry till they get to the carters for processing. It’s a revolting and a suitable stage to meet the Thief-Taker General. We last saw him on the roof just before the accident and it seems the unintentional injury Garrett caused has crippled the man. He now has a prosthetic and walks with a cane. He’s driven, greedy and violent; shooting a hapless carter in cold blood. From the other’s dialog it’s a given that he’s violent. They were taking bets on how long it would be until he beat someone again. Though the killing seems to have disturbed them as well. Something is going on, something that has even the General on edge. He finds the ring and takes it. This is our clue that the ring is important. Once the ring is obtained we get further proof it’s important with a short flashback or hallucination. Then it’s a close call with the General.
After getting a message via Jenivere Garrett heads back to Basso’s. There is someone who wants to meet him. It turns out its the same man whom he stole the ring for. Even Basso speaks highly of Orion letting Garrett know that he respects him as someone who is fomenting change for the City’s oppressed and poor. Normal men like himself and Garrett. “Well, me anyway.” Basso corrects himself with a smirk.
Orion himself is a big bear of a man. He tells Garrett it’s good that he came to which Garret, ever the pragmatist replies, “You’re paying aren’t you.” Garrett takes a moment to look around noting the condition of those Orion is attempting to treat. “Then you’ve bought my attention for now at least.”
It’s easy to see that Orion is a politician at heart, trying to sway Garrett to his side by showing how he’s opposing the Baron’s treatment of people especially those with the gloom. But Garrett’s having none of it. He stays out of politics. Orion states that he realizes Garrett prides himself on being a loner then asks if he really has no stake in what is happening to the people. Garrett doesn’t believe so, he content to continue doing what has always worked for him. Orion asks, “But for how long?”
Garrett is thrown into an aural flashback of the accident and passes out. He’s defensive and on edge when he wakes insisting he’s fine and demanding what Orion wants from him. Once again he doesn’t drink something someone else gives to him. Orion wants a book that just happens to be hidden in the House of Blossoms, an upscale brothel that caters to the elite. He tells Garrett that he doesn’t normally hold with stealing, which gets him a look from Garrett. “A man of politics stealing by proxy. Sounds about right.”
“As right as a thief who steals for a good cause.” Orion retorts with a small smile.
Garret agrees to get the book and Orion assures him that he will be securing a better future for everyone. “I’ll remember that.” Garrett says before he leaves.
Garret has never been to the red light district. Something that took me a little by surprise for being unusual for most game protagonists. The surprise quickly turned into appreciation for the fact that carnal pleasures are obviously not on his agenda. He goes to find Erin’s hideout knowing she’d been there before. We are treated to his first full blown hallucination of Erin. She tells him he must find a key, something from before she became Erin and that it will lead him to the truth. The fact that her hideout is plastered with drawings and sketches of him shows a bit of an obsessive nature. It’s evident from the hallucination that there is something there he is meant to find. Taking a similar path as in the hallucination leads him to a strange dial. He decides to take it with him. At the brothel while he’s searching he looks into a keyhole and is treated to what is either another hallucination or one of Erin’s memories. At this point I began to wonder how he had her memories and speculated it was related to the accident and his new focus ability.
We meet several interesting characters in this chapter, getting to peek in on private moments. One of note is Eastwick who we learn is an architect. There is also the Madam who happens to be a trans female. A detail I loved. Getting to the book is an interesting endeavor and Garret finds the ruins of a ancient library. Its here that we start seeing strange glowing flowers. Picking up the book triggers another short hallucination and the name Cornelius is repeated along with a new name. Aldous. Keys are mentioned. On the way out some—thing is lurking in the shadows but darts away. The tunnel out leads directly under a bed and someone is getting serviced. It’s the Thief-Taker General who is just as tender with his whores as with his men. Madam confronts him and threatens to divest him of his manhood should he strike the girl again. This really made me love the Madam. She takes care of her girls even protecting them from powerful men like the General.
The ever so kind General tosses the poor girl to the floor where she sees Garrett hiding under the bed. And of course she screams. This was an ‘oh fuck’ moment for me because I now understood just how violent and depraved the General is and it made me fear for Garrett. He can’t get out from under the bed since the rug is on fire on the side opposite from where the General is standing. Thankfully the General is not wearing his wrist mounted crossbow, he does however display an impressive amount of strength flipping the large bed. There is no time for Garrett to move and he rolls trying to avoid the bed but ends up slamming into the wall with the bed pinning him. The General recognizes him and seems rather gleeful at the prospect of killing Garrett. Which given the injury to his leg is understandable. Garrett manages to wiggle free and shoves a table at the General buying himself a few seconds to grab the cane and slip out the door. He leaves with the admonishment to the General to be nicer to the ladies just before a large wingback chair slams into the door. Using the cane to wedge the door shut Garrett makes good his escape. This scene was a good set up to their continuing conflict and the General’s growing obsession with finding and killing Garrett.
Seven nights later and Garrett is back at the Clock Tower when he hears something out of the ordinary. He finds Jenivire dying and immediately realizes Basso must be in trouble. Things in the City are deteriorating. There are public hangings for the slightest offense without any trial. Garrett heads for the Crippled Burrick and finds Orion rifling through everything in a frenzy. He tells Garrett that the Thief-Taker General has taken Basso and some of his men captive and is upset that the book looks to have been taken as well. Garrett is angry, wanting to know what is so important about a book that his friend’s life is at stake. I find it interesting that he uses the word friend and not fence here.
Orion is agitated and goes on about how important the book is and how the Baron won’t use it’s power for the good of the people. This is a huge clue because as we saw earlier it’s the same book they were using when the accident happened. Garrett, knowing Basso like he does knows the book is safe but he doesn’t let Orion have it until he knows where they took Basso. Orion tells him that they were taken to the Keep and points him to Jacob. One of his own men who had been studying the Keep looking for a way in. According to Orion he found one. Here Orion makes the mistake of touching Garrett, putting a hand on his shoulder in what is meant to be a friendly fashion. It’s quite obviously not acceptable but it tells me that Orion feels as though he can take liberties with Garrett, as if they are friends. They are not.
Garrett is thankful for the information and only relays this sentiment by stating that once he sees to his ‘fence’ he’ll see about getting out Orion’s Graven. That Garret corrects his label for Basso is interesting and lets Orion know that he calls very few friend. He hands the book over once he has the information on where to find Jacob. Orion tells him, “You are not so different, you and I, Garret. You bring change. One day the people will thank you for that.”
“You think too much of the people.” Garret retorts. This is an interesting statement it shows that Garret knows that any sort of altruistic endeavor is ultimately a thankless one. People are just as likely to try to destroy their saviors as praise them. That and it doesn’t pay.
Once he gets to Graystone plaza it’s evident that Jacob is no longer going to be able to help him. But, he does know someone who might be able to help thanks to his time in the House of Blossoms. The architect Eastwick who was responsible for the design and building of the Keep.
On the way to Eastwick’s city house he notices a fire erupting at the top of the Keep. Time is not on his side. He needs to get to Eastwick and find the plans for the keep and get to Basso before the structure succumbs. Easier said than done. Eastwick’s city house is crawling with Watch guards. We learn that Eastwick has barricaded himself in his study. Finding the hidden entrance leads to a massive study where Eastwick has hanged himself. The plans aren’t just lying out in the open. A puzzle must be solved first which reveals a hidden panel. Grabbing the plans just as the guards break the door down it’s a harrowing escape full of flaming crossbow quarrels, dogs, guards and not to mention leaping from rooftops. The entire time you get the feeling that he’s enjoying himself. It culminates in a leap that is arrested by a line thrown. He slams into the wall hard enough to probably crack a rib or two and reminded me of the time I fell off a roof at work and my safety harness caught me. Garret of course is unfazed and immediately looks over the plans to determine the best way into the Keep. In doing so he finds not only a way in but confirmation of the rumored Great Safe along with the combination.
Exhaust vent it is. Why am I not surprised?
Getting to the Keep proves interesting because there is a massive explosion debris raining down and killing several of the guards stationed outside. Garrett makes his way through the smoldering ruins of the courtyard. The Keep itself is burning and getting through to the floor where Basso is held is a major challenge. There are exploding gas lines and plenty of fires to avoid. A bloodied and beaten Basso is surprised but very happy to see Garrett. “Thanks Garrett. I was going a little crazy in there. I even wished I had Jenivere with me.”
Garrett who was just ahead making sure all the guards were dead, stops at this comment. It almost looks as if Garrett is going to say ‘I’m sorry’ as he turns to Basso, but the words don’t come. They aren’t needed. Just the look of regret on Garrett’s face is enough. Basso is devastated. He’d always planned on killing the bird himself but even that’s been taken away. That Garrett realizes how much the stupid bird meant to Basso shows another side of his character.
He heads for the elevator surprising Basso. “What are you up to? Oh wait. Wait! Wait! You not thinking about those tall tales about the legendary Great Safe, are you?”
Garrett doesn’t bother to answer. It should be obvious to Basso that of course he’s going after the safe.
“And Garrett…” Basso pauses clearly worried but knowing he cannot stop the master thief. “If you get out of here alive…I mean, you know, when you get out of here. I’ll be at the Siren’s Rest in the Southern Quarter.”
There is nothing more to say and Garrett closes the elevator door.
He does find the great safe and as he pulls the lever he tells himself. “This might be a really bad idea.”
There is an ominous rumbling and the enormous safe lowers from the ceiling. It’s nearly two stories tall and almost that wide. Garrett’s awe is evident in his voice. “The Great Safe. It doesn’t disappoint.” A pause. “I’m going to need bigger lock picks.”
The locking mechanism is daunting requiring multiple steps including six combination locks. As Garret reaches for the second set of locks a quarrel pierces the back of his left hand. It’s not an easy thing to sneak up on Garrett yet somehow the Thief-Taker General has managed it. Clutching his wrist pain evident in every line of his body Garrett turns to face the General.
“Don’t you know, Garrett? Greed is a sin and you must be punished for your sins. But, I understand greed my friend where it comes from. You made it so easy; all I had to do was get you in the building.” He pauses and taps his cane.
Garrett’s mind is working furiously as he scans the room maneuvering to the side of the safe and into the shadows. It was a trap to begin with.
“You see…I know you better than you know yourself.” The General gloats.
Steeling himself Garrett pulls the quarrel from his hand. The guards are closing in, there isn’t time to be worried about the injury. He slips behind the safe looking for a way around the squad of guards.
“You’ll swing from a noose in the morning, Master Thief.” The General’s tone is derisive. He’d rather wound and capture Garrett in order to kill him slowly than kill him outright while his back is turned. Garrett makes the snap decision to grab on to the safe as they raise it. It’s better than staying where he is to face six guard with swords and crossbows. He nearly takes another quarrel from the General though and barely manages to hang on with his good hand. Garrett is even more determined now to open the safe and take whatever he happens to find inside. He eludes the guards long enough to get the safe open.
What he finds is nothing that he expected.
The safe is empty except for a primal stone fragment. Picking up the fragment triggers another hallucination that seems to have bits of Garrett’s past woven in as well. Then we hear Erin again. She’s in pain and desperate to escape whatever is being done to her. Garrett chases her specter through what appears to have been an orphanage, the bed frames twisted and warped by vines. Again she tells him to follow her that she has a secret to tell him.
“You grow up strong when you grow up alone. There is no one to help you up.”
Garrett knows this intimately. “And no one to hold you back.”
“Is that why you let me go Garrett? Because I was the only family you had?”
Garrett stays silent. Neither affirming or denying the statement.
“We never did see eye-to-eye. Big brother knows best.”
Garrett’s voice softens as he replies “I tried to help but you wouldn’t listen.”
Erin retorts, “You know, I was just thinking the same thing about you. I’m going to make them stop. I want to sleep like you did.” Panic creeps into her voice. “Northcrest! He’s here! You want to know what happened? Where you’ve been? Come to the asylum. Moira harbors truths others would sooner forget.”
During this conversation Garrett is walking down a long hall. He gets to a door with a barred window. Beyond it he can see a figure huddled in the corner.
“You’re here to save me?” Erin asks. She laughs. “Then you’ll need the key. Look behind you.”
The hall is gone. He’s in a room with a small statue now. The statue holds a piece of the primal stone.
“Just steal it. You’ve never hesitated before.”
The moment he picks up the fragment, the spectral Erin surges up and grabs his wrist leaping for him.
The vision ends and Garrett is falling. Or rather the safe is falling with him in it. It’s a rough and tumble landing and he staggers out barely keeping his feet. The Keep is in ruins.
“That didn’t go quite according to plan.” He concedes. “I need to get back to the clock tower and clear my head.”
The Graven uprising has begun. The Watch are now the ones being slaughtered in the public squares. The City is degenerating into chaos. Garrett heads for the Siren’s Rest to find Basso. He needs answers. Basso is drowning his pain in the swill they serve.
“You look almost human Basso.” Garrett quips from the booth behind him.
Basso chuckles. “If you can survive on what the serve here you can survive on anything. How’s the hand?”
“Like your pride, I’ll bet.” Basso shakes his head and snorts. “That shit-bucked needs to get what’s coming to him.” Basso’s concern is evident but he knows better than to fuss over Garrett’s injury. As he stated, Garrett’s pride took the greater hit getting played like that by the General. Then something rather unprecedented happens judging from Basso’s reaction. Garrett asks for a favor.
“You still have your boat?”
Basso sighs. “I’d get a room here if I were you…find yourself a nice gal and bed down till this whole thing blows over.”
That’s not acceptable to Garrett. “I need to do a little research. It’s about Erin. I need to get across to the Moira Asylum.”
Basso is skeptical but supportive. “Just let me know when you wanna go…I’ll be there.”
Basso has a small row boat. He’s waiting in it when Garrett arrives to leave. The usually cat footed Garrett is unsure and unsteady as he gets into the boat. Now that he’s faced with the prospect of actually being in the boat he’s not nearly as comfortable with the idea.
“Now I remember why I hate boats.” He grumbles one foot in the boat the other still on the dock arms splayed for balance.
“Well, I hate swimming a whole lot more, so get in.” Garrett plops down with less than his usual grace and Basso all but swats his hands away from the oars. “No. I’ll take the oars. You row about as well as I can dance.”
Garrett grips the sides of the boat. “Sure. The exercise will do you some good.”
Basso just laughs and starts rowing.
He eventually asks Garrett what Erin has to do with Moira. There is a pause then for the first time in the game we are treated to Garrett opening up and actually discussing what he remembers of the accident. The hallucinations are bothering him a lot more than he’d like to admit and he wonders if he’s going crazy. That he trusts Basso enough to show this kind of vulnerability is a clue to just how much he’s coming to rely on the fence. He really does consider him a friend.
“Do you believe in ghosts?”
“Huh?” Basso’s not quite following but willing to listen.
“Spirits, you know, the dead…coming back to haunt the living? Punish them.” Garrett thinks Erin is trying to punish him for getting her killed. His guilt over what happened is eating at him and driving him to find out what actually happened after the accident.
“You think Erin is haunting you?” Basso’s tone isn’t dismissive, he’s genuinely concerned and it shows in the way he looks at Garrett.
Garrett hangs his head and there is a soft sigh, “I don’t know, perhaps.” He pauses for a moment. “I remember… a ritual…some kind of explosion…Erin died. I’ll never forget it. And everything else is…gone.”
Basso’s concern deepens his brow furrowing as he listens. “Aw c’mon Garrett…I know you wouldn’t have put that gal in harms way. She’d have put herself there easy enough.”
They arrive at the dock and Garrett is less morose and more determined. “There is an answer in here somewhere. I could feel it.”
Basso warns Garrett that things at the asylum might not be optimal for find information. After a riot there has been no communication with anyone on the island and the few boats that did venture there didn’t return.
“I don’t know what you expect to find in there but be careful. Don’t become a ghost yourself.”
Garrett pauses before looking over his shoulder. “I’ve been a ghost all my life.”
A ghost. A nonentity. Something no one wants and everyone avoids. This is how Garrett sees himself. His independent attitude has lead to loneliness.
And thus begins Chapter 5: The Forsaken. It’s a turning point in the narrative and marks the start of the third act in Chapter 6. There is a lot that happens in this chapter and a lot of new information. It happens to be one of my favorite chapters. It’s also the most eerie and haunting as Garrett slips around the seemingly deserted asylum. The front door is locked but then again Garrett was never one for front doors. After scouting around the parameter and walking back by the door he notices that its now open. Someone seems to be expecting him. The interior of the asylum is quiet as a tomb, dimly lit and obviously abandoned in a hurry. There are still documents laying around. By the time he makes it the patient wing of the hospital it’s increasingly apparent that it’s not as abandoned as he would probably like it to be. There are many ominous signs. Large scratches on the wall and a pool of blood in front of the door leading to the female wing. But that’s where he feels he’ll find the answers he’s looking for.
Along the way he finds more documents. The story they tell is heartrending. It’s been confirmed that while Erin is Patient #19 Garret could have possibly been Patient #31, the Archivist. If this indeed is the case then why didn’t the Beggar Queen tell him that’s where he’d been. She obviously knew since she mentioned they took him out of the City, to heal him.
Looking through a keyhole into a room with drawings plastered on the walls we are greeted by Erin on the other side of the door.
“You shouldn’t be here.”
Garrett is a bit taken aback. “Erin. Is it the asylum that’s haunted, or me? Why were you here?”
Garrett experiences another auditory hallucination that or a flashback to the accident. Erin is in pain. Documents point to room 3F. He eventually finds her room and it leads him even further down, into the lock down ward in the basement. Turning on the generator allows him access to the room he needs. It’s an examination room complete with a restraining chair. As soon as he grabs the syringe off the seat he’s thrown into another hallucination. At first it seems as if Garrett himself are in the chair fully restrained. But it’s Erin’s memory. Erin, almost as if speaking to herself tells Garrett.
“Don’t show him you are scared. Don’t let him see you lose control.” Baron Northcrest enters, walking by the spectral Erin. “I wanted to stop him.” She continues. “I wanted to save myself. But they won’t let me wake up.”
Baron Northcrest is determined to get the primal out of Erin but doesn’t want to kill her. She asks if Garrett understands the fear of being trapped, being used. The doctor brandishes a large syringe and starts for Garrett who struggles against the restraints.
The Baron becomes frantic. “Quickly! She’s corrupting it!”
“See.” Erin scoffs. “I ruin everything.” Apparently she’s heard this before and from Garrett judging by her tone.
The Baron and the doctor close in further restraining Garrett and the syringe heads for his right eye and Erin screams. The vision starts to fade and we hear the doctor. “It’s no good. I’ll take her back down to the prison level.”
Garrett comes next to the chair. He’s unsteady when he stands and looks around the room. “I thought you died.” His voice is soft, almost pained. “But, it’s worse than that. You did steal the primal that night. Now, the Baron wants it back.” He heads for the prison level and enters a hallway. Bodies are slamming against the shut doors, twisted taloned limbs snap through the cracks in the doors trying to grab him. He makes it to the door at the end of the hall just as they start breaking through. He’s grabbed and dragged back through the door. Light envelops him and he finds himself in another hallway, this one lined with the strange glowing flowers. Gravity doesn’t seem to work the same way and he falls though a door. Erin is talking. She wants to know why she’s alone and where Garrett is at. Then we see how the freaks came about. They were human.
She tells Garrett that she thought he was the one she could trust and to follow her to the truth. Here again Garrett’s whole motivation is reiterated. He’s driven by guilt and even his typically fiercely independent nature won’t let him leave it be. He has to know the truth of what happened as much to absolve his conscience as to see if Erin truly is still alive and in need of assistance. It seems that she is as the hallucination-or is it a memory she’s showing him-continues.
“Someone is going to die.” She tells him as the vision fades.
Garrett’s not sure if he’s going crazy or not at this point, but everything seems to be leading him to the Baron. So it’s back to the Northcrest Manor. It’s under attack by the Graven Dawn but Garrett manages to find the Baron in his study. Garrett demands answers from him.
“Nobody likes my answers.” Northcrest is unfazed by Garrett’s threat. He goes ahead and explains the primal to Garrett and his plans for it and what happened to Erin. Orion, also known as Aldus, took her from Moira, not Cornelius.
Garrett has once again been used and the Baron realizes that Garrett himself is the missing piece Orion needs to complete what he’s trying to do. He maneuvers Garrett into an elevator and then sends him down with the intent that the Graven will kill him on sight. Garrett for his part goes to find the last piece of the primal stone. He manages to break the contraption holding it only to be confronted once more by the Thief-Taker General. Held fast by a boot on his injured hand Garrett looks for a way to get free as the General gloats about how he’s going to take his hand as a trophy. The claw comes in handy here, Garrett slamming it into the General’s bad leg. Then its a wet ride through the sewers.
He goes back to the clock tower and we get an interesting conversation between him and the Queen of the Beggars. How she got into the tower is a mystery. She shows just how astute and observant she really is uttering one of the more iconic phrases in the entire game. “In order to be alone, you must have something to be alone from.” It’s obvious that Garrett doesn’t want to acknowledge this but he knows she is right. He has to get the the Ceremonial chamber and to Erin before Orion accidentally kills her and in doing so destroys the city. He arrives as Orion is beginning the cleansing ceremony using Erin’s blood to heal people of the gloom and dooming them to an even worse fate. Garrett’s proximity to Erin causes his head to ache most likely due to the fragment in his eye. Erin wakes and using the primal freezes time so that Garrett can get to the altar and Orion. Garret steals the amulet they are using to anoint the suffers and time starts again. Orion is shocked and tries to appeal to Garrett, but ends up grabbing Erin and dragging her away. She screams and releases a wave of energy sending everyone including Garrett flying away from the altar.
“This one is mine.” The Thief-Taker General blocks Garrett’s path to Erin. The General is determined to kill Garret with his bare hands at this point. The outcome depends on the gamer. I personally prefer the one where Garrett slips past him and out into the hall. Its truer to his nature rather than outright killing the man. It’s also the best kind of revenge.
It did not come as any surprise to me that Erin is the final boss. Through the entire game she is hounding Garret for abandoning and betraying her compounding his guilt and outright manipulating him at times. She is not an overly sympathetic character even if she does help Garrett, even saving his life a couple of times through various means. It’s never for his benefit though. She needs him to rescue her only because he is the only other person seemingly attuned to the primal. She didn’t give him the focus ability and whisper advice to him out of any loyalty except to herself. Yes what happened to her was quite horrible, but it was her decision on that rooftop to disregard Garrett’s admonition that she wasn’t ready. She let her pride and vanity override her sense and she paid for it. Garret for his part has changed, he’s not as insular and isolated as before. He’s allowed himself to trust and to even call at least one person a friend. His drive for perfection and unwillingness to rely on anyone else has been tempered. He paid for his mistakes and even though he was tricked into helping secure items for the very people hurting Erin he made good on his promise to help her.
The final scene leaves a lot open for interpretation. We are lead to believe that Erin survived and left Garrett unconscious where he was. This allows for a sequel to include her. I hope it doesn’t. There are several other characters I think would be much better and offer better motivation and conflict for the next game. Ideally, I’d like to see the Thief-Taker General. He was a wickedly smart and vile character. His ambition easily matches Garrett’s and I think he’s more than a match intellectually for the master thief.
Garrett’s core personality trait is his independence. This most likely stems from his having to rely on himself at a very early age and having trust issues ingrained into him. He’s introverted and believes only in himself and his abilities. He doesn’t want to owe anyone anything. He’s self-reliant with inner emotional strength. He’s always striving for things he wants and enjoys his solitude. He seeks out information in order to make sound decisions and he trusts his intuition. He’s very centered knowing who he is and what his place in the world is. He doesn’t care what other people think and cannot be swayed by peer pressure. He doesn’t like to meddle in other’s lives. He’s very patient but doesn’t waste time. He quickly realizes when something isn’t working and takes steps to correct it. He’s very protective of his privacy and finds it difficult if not impossible to ask for help. He’s highly disciplined and takes pride in his achievements.
But it’s his drive to be perfect that gets him in trouble. He wants to prove to himself that he deserves the title of Master Thief and this means a lifestyle devoid of personal pleasures and creature comforts. He must steal to prove he exists. This has led to a very insular lifestyle devoid of social interaction except when absolutely necessary. While
What’s yours is mine.
Overall I found Garrett to be an incredibly likable rogue even with his faults. I feel we should have been given more backstory with him and Erin to really understand her and why she felt so betrayed and why he felt so guilty. The whole issue of the Primal could have been handled a little bit better and introduced a little sooner, but it worked the way it was. My only issue was that the last half of the second act and the first part of the third act were too heavy on the hallucinations. It was no wonder Garret thought he was going crazy. I was starting too as well. Erin’s constant harping on the betrayal she felt got old. It wasn’t completely Garrett’s fault what happened the year before. She chose to ignore him. Yes he did take the claw from her, but he was trying to protect her from herself. And she nearly got them both killed. I have little sympathy for stupidity and selfishness and she displays both right from the start.
The entire theme of the game is trust and betrayal. There are numerous times Garrett is asked to trust and several times he’s betrayed. Knowing who to trust and when is always a dicey proposition, especially in Garrett’s line of work. Each betrayal and manipulation feels like a personal assault and trust is the currency paid. Toward the end he’s not even sure he can trust himself. And if you can’t trust yourself…who can you trust?