on Mar 27, 2014
Garrett brings the ring back to Basso, who then arranges a meeting between Garrett and Orion, the guy who wanted the ring in the first place. I’m not sure if the game says so explicitly or not, but I’m sure he’s also the one that requested the job to steal the primal stone at the start of the game.
I can’t help wondering if I was the only one who found this a little strange. A client asks to meet the Thief? Wouldn’t that be an automatic “no”? Isn’t it Basso’s job to keep Garrett hidden, anonymous, and secret from clients? Not a big deal, but it did strike me as kind of odd.
Orion is caring for the sick somewhere in the slums. When they meet, Garrett has this strange vision where he hears Erin calling out to him and he passes out. I thought this was the start of Garrett coming down with the plague, or some sort of supernatural problem he was having. I figured this would be an ongoing problem. But he never passes out again and I have no idea what purpose it served here.
When he wakes up, Orion gives him the details of the next job. Orion needs a book, which is hidden “somewhere in the House of Blossoms”. So we need a book that’s hidden in a brothel. When the meeting is over Garrett announces, “The House of Blossoms. I never went there, but I know someone who did. Erin.” Without further explanation, the game sends us to search Erin’s hideout. Garrett doesn’t even have a goal. He just decides to go to her place because one time she went to the place we’re going to.
Once we get to Erin’s place we have the first of many encounters with quasi-spectral Erin. We’re transported to a magical maze and she taunts us while we fumble around and look for the exit.
She tells Garrett, “I watched you. I wanted to be you. We’re so alike. But why did I even try? The world already has a Garret.”
This characterization does not fit with the character as presented so far. She never made any effort to be like Garret. In fact, she held him in contempt and never did anything he said. How can she claim the two of them are “so alike”? They’re opposites! At the start of the game we were shown a woman who disliked Garret, acted nothing like him, and scorned his advice. Now she’s claiming she envied him, wanted to be him, and that they have a lot in common.
Now, you might argue that we’re talking to Spectral Erin and not Jerkface Erin, and maybe her ghost is half-crazy. Or maybe you could argue that her feelings were “secret” and this this reveal exists to explain her previous behavior. But Garrett doesn’t say anything to acknowledge the discrepancy in behavior or attitude. Does he not notice, even for the benefit of the audience, that her claims are completely at odds with her character? This isn’t a character reveal, or character development. This is just some fill-in-the-blank villain patter. (Once again, they’re using villain tropes for a supposedly sympathetic character.)
|I do appreciate that they lampshaded the fact that there was no reason for Erin to own this thing.|
Garrett didn’t have a goal, but he manages to find it anyway. In Erin’s room she’s got a charcoal drawing of Garret, and his eye in the picture is actually a switch to a secret compartment. Inside, he finds a special medallion that he’ll need to solve a mechanical puzzle in the next section of the game. He has no way of knowing this, so I guess it’s lucky he randomly came here to get it?
The brothel level is a complete mess, both thematically and in terms of gameplay. It’s probably one of the weakest areas of the game. Nearly everyone is static. Patrons and the girls are planted in place, and they never wander around. Many of them don’t even react to your presence, even when they really shouldIn one private room, you can walk right up to a couple snuggling on the bed and they don’t react to your presence at all.. The layout is complete nonsense, with lots of peep holes that afford you a view of private areas that can’t be reached and don’t seem to fit into the floor plan in any logical way.
If you sneak off to the kitchen and disable a machine and then pull a lever, you can overload the opium dispenser, which will instantly blanket the entire downstairs in opium smoke. This will instantly and silently knock everyone out without impacting Garrett in any way. To me it kind of looked like the smoke was pouring out of the hookahs scattered around the downstairs. Is the game suggesting that the place has some sort of opium-based plumbing? I have no idea.
Once we slip past the brothel patrons, we find an upstairs room with a secret door. Like a lot of secret doors in this game, it’s completely one-way. Once you use it, you’re stuck in the catacombs and can’t return to the brothel proper. One-way doors like this have no place in a supposedly free-range game based on exploration and loot collection. There’s no warning. You’re just sucked into the next area whether you were done in the previous one or not.
In the back area we have to peek through some holes into various rooms to see symbols etched onto the walls inside. These rooms are not someplace you can reach, and it’s not clear how anyone can reach them. Nevertheless, people are inside the rooms getting it on, so… yeah. There’s that.
I should note that the audio in Thief is a mess. The action in these rooms is supposedly taking place behind a brick wall. When you first enter a passage everything is basically silent. But once you peer through a hole, your ears are effectively in the room with the occupants, and you’ll continue to hear them perfectly no matter how far away you move.
In one room we see some sort of flashback vision of a patron and Erin. She’s saying she wants to be left alone, then the guy refuses to take no for an answer. Then we cut to the guy sitting in a pool of blood and Erin walking away. Then the vision passes and the room is empty.
What is the game saying here? Was Erin a prostitute before she became a thief? Or did she infiltrate the brothel for the purpose of stealing this medallion thing? Or did someone try to force her into prostitution, and she murdered her way out? Is the game saying she was a victim who finally overcame her oppressors, or is it saying she’s too strong to be a victim? Was this supposed to be the moment she lost her innocence by taking a life, or is the game saying she sometimes had to shank a dude to get her hands on something she wanted?
I can’t tell, and the game never brings this up again.
Here we come to a pretty infamous part of the game. In one of the rooms is a guy who gets off on being slapped around. And for some reason we can hear him talking clearly, even though we’re ten meters from the tiny hole in the wall that the sound is supposedly coming through. Also: We can hear his voice, but not the slapping. Which is odd.
We’ve got to use the medallion to solve a matching-symbols puzzle, and the whole time we’re wandering around looking for clues we can hear this guy looping through the same four or five “ohh yeah hit me harder” type messages.
Puzzle solved, a door opens and we can proceed down into the catacombs. Of course, Orion just said the book was “in the House of Blossoms”. He never said anything about catacombs. But instead of looking for books here, we’re going down. Garrett has apparently read the script and he knows Orion was wrong.
So to be clear: Garrett visited Erin’s hideout and obtained a key he didn’t know he would need, which granted him access to a secret area he didn’t know existed, and which he chose to enter even though he’d been explicitly told his goal was elsewhere. And he never comments on any of this.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.