Guide for Thief Gold – Things you need to know before playing Thief: The Dark Project
Official art for Thief The Dark Project
Before starting I want to mention that all my guide is based on a default Gold version of the game with basic TFix improvements installed. Maybe there are some extreme patches out there that fix these issues and rewrite the game code – I don’t know. This guide is based on Thief version I played myself and which most of other players will use.
The idea for this guide came to me after replaying Thief: The Dark Project recently. Though I always loved original Thief trilogy, because of its age and genre pioneering there are several things that will irritate you throughout the game and some which you wish you knew from the start. Thus, I decided to highlight them all for those, who are only considering to dive into the wonderful world of Thief. Nevertheless, if you are a person who likes to fully explore the game by themselves without any info beforehand then this guide might actually spoil your experience, but if you are like that, then what you are doing here in the first place?
First things first, here I will not talk about installing patches and fixes, there are many other guides dedicated to it and essentially everything you need to comfortably play The Dark Project today is TFix and EAX Sound Fix. If you want HD textures, reworked models, additional mods – there are many other great guides about that like this one. Here I will be discussing game mechanics and tricks only.
To begin with, a small section about difficulties. Though it has been noted in many other videos and articles, I still feel need to talk about them. In comparison to other games difficulty does not change AI and enemy parameters at all, the only things that are affected by it are number of goals, health bar, pre-mission shop and level design in terms of available locations, enemy numbers and loot placements. If you are very unsure about your stealth skills you can try hard, but for true stealth experience I really recommend going expert: on normal you will just miss too much content.
Because the game is straight from 90’s when now common controls were only being formed and some still people didn’t have proper mouses, default bindings are peculiar for a modern player to say the least. There are several guides on this topic but they all are kinda archaic, so I decided to gather all valuable information in one place. First of all, surprisingly, this game can be played via Xbox Controller and the whole process is detailed in drive.google.com – https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2074818341&searchtext=controller. Drop it to …\Steam\steamapps\common\thief_gold\SAVES, then enter the game, go to settings – controls and clear all existing bindings with Alt+Backspace (the game actually doesn’t overwrite current bindings but merges current with loaded, which can cause various conflicts), then press Load and choose “My Binds”. Now you have a clear working set, which you can also adjust for yourself if you need too. However, there are some nuances there, which require additional modification of that file, because, as I already told, the game came out 20+ years ago.
With these bindings you have “Walk Forward – W”, “Run – Hold Shift”, “Slow Walk – Hold Alt”, “Crouch – Press Ctrl”. I don’t think that you will need to change the first one but what’s with other three? If you want to change the buttons you can do it for slow walk and crouching pretty easy, however for running it’s a bit more tricky. By default the game has no “Run” button, only “Run Forward”, which basically means you have stop holding “Walk” button and then press “Run Forward” one – not so convenient, right? Well, this was fixed in Thief 2 and brought to Thief Gold by TFix, however without a separate setting in control menu, so you will have to do it from the file itself. Open it with any text editor and find “bind shift +runon” line, then change shift to the preferable key so it will be “bind <your key> +runon”. Save the file, open the game, load “My Binds” again and now running should be activated by your key.
Okay, but what if you want to change toggle\hold mode for some of these binds? For crouching it’s easy – there is a “Hold Crouch” option in the controls, but for other two we will have to go into the file again. Find either “bind shift +runon” or ” bind alt +creepon” then remove the plus between key and the move, so it will go from “bind <key> +<move>” to “bind <key> <move>”. Save the file, open the game, load “My Binds” again and now these buttons work like toggles, not requiring to press them constantly.
Official art for Thief The Dark Project
So, you have finally adjusted the keys and now can play comfortably? Well, not exactly… Again, because of the game’s age movement and parkour here are not perfect, but let’s be consistent and talk one thing at a time.
Initially, you think that slower you move less noise you produce, but it’s not really like that. The truth is that the faster you move the lesser time passes between each “step”, which actually cause noise, so you can even go the slowest speed but make noise. What should you do then? Well, there is such thing called pacing, which lets you to move quietly on noisy surfaces: in short, you press “Walk” button in short bursts, rather than holding it constantly. It sounds strange but, believe me, you will get used to it in the first few missions. The most optimal way to do it is by walking forward while crouching, however, with some practice you can even learn to do it by running while crouching. Also, use strafe very cautiously because in comparison with walking forward and back the “steps” there are much more regular, so you can easily expose yourself by it in the tight situation.
Now let’s say you are in a safe spot and want to go as fast as possible, there are several tactics to do it. Firstly, the game engine lets both bunny hop and strafe-running happen – I won’t explain in details what this is, but, in short, if you press both run forward, strafe and hit jump timings you can reach insane speeds very fast. However, this technique is usually useful only to speedruners, and most of the common players will have enough with simple strafe-walking – just remember that it will produce more noise than usual walking.
As for more common tips, you can always jump between two quiet surfaces close to each other to exclude need for going slowly on a noisy patch. This also useful for large noisy floors: instead of making a moss path on it, make small patches about 1 meter from each other (also keep in mind that arrow usually covers 1-meter radius around the hit spot) and jump between them. However, even jumping requires some skill, and that’s what next section is about.
Art by www.deviantart.com – https://www.deviantart.com/ogilac
This game was one of the first to implement detailed 3D platforming and climbing mechanics and because of this they work very mediocre from time to time. So, before making any major jump, save for the sake of your nerves, because you can easily overjump, miss platform or hit it but Garret will refuse to hang onto it. Also make sure you have “Touch” for “Attach Ladders” in game settings, because you can easily unattach by pressing Crouch button, but trying to time Jump button to catch rope while you buzzing through the air above lava floor is a real cancer. And even if all you need is just climb up some junk Garrett can just jump in front of it instead, landing with a great echoing sound, which will bring half of the guards on the level to you, so, as I said, before any action involving parkour save your game.
So, how should you get along with that? Well, firstly before trying to climb anything try to run into it, it might work for small fences or uplifts, then try stand as close to it as you can and hold jump button until the animation is fully played. If this doesn’t help try running and jumping into that object so that about 1/3 of what you see is above ledge. You might be used to pressing jump then leaving button and then pressing it again to hold onto the ledge, but here it’s better to keep jump button pressed from jumping move to the moment you fully climb, because it usually works better than trying to time the button in the air. Also, keep in mind that Garrett is very reluctant on climbing on things that have small space between them and the ceiling.
To properly climb onto the ledge from the rope\ladder climb as high as you can and then hold jump button until you fully climb. If you fall, try doing it from a bit lower or shoot another rope arrow into the ledge. In addition, both slow walk\run buttons work for ladders\ropes and don’t cause any noise, so feel free to press them while climbing. But remember not to save while hanging on ropes and ladders because they are loaded a bit later than all other level, so you can screw you save file if you do that.
If you need to jump from one ledge and climb to another make sure you “fly” directly into the second ledge because otherwise Garrett will just touch the ledge and refuse to climb, he also won’t hold onto it if you go directly up\down with no speed to any side. Otherwise, it’s like with jumping on solid objects: run and jump so that about 1/3 of what you see is above ledge and hold jump button until the end.
Last thing, which you are unlikely to encounter, but still. Usually any surface steeper than 45 degrees will automatically make you slide down, but there is actually a way to climb surfaces up to 70 degrees. Firstly, try just strafe-running into one with slight movement of camera, if you slide then find a corner where two of these surfaces meet, and go strafe-running into it. Jumps don’t work on such surfaces (and you usually don’t produce any noise while moving like that), so the only real thing to speed up the process will be slight movements of camera.
Leaning one of the main moves in the game and helps to cover the territory without exposing yourself. However, leaning does not make you invisible, and if guard looks at the place you are leaning from, they will note that they see something. Nevertheless, it’s still safer than just go full out. But the thing I want to mention is that you can add both leaning on the side and forward, which provides for more moves, but if done in tight space it can make you stuck and potentially shoot across the room, so be careful.
Art by Asadar
And now we finally got to the core mechanics of the game. Of course, back then there was no dynamic lighting in game and both graphical and gameplay light maps were made manually, which resulted in several imperfections. Most common of them is difference between visible lighting level and one that light gem (the indicator in the bottom of the screen) reads, like you are visible in shadow or vice versa. So, always prioritize the level of light the gem shows and not which you see in game. Also, the known bug, which you can use as a feature, is that every door frame has a small spot standing at which makes you fully in shadow even if there is a light source in both rooms.
You can put out most of the light sources with water arrows, excluding electric and natural ones, but the most important thing is that by default light sources hanging from the ceiling, even if they are candle chandeliers are non-interactable, so that means you can’t put them out by any means. It’s unclear whether it’s a bug or intentional design but this can be “fixed” with “Interactive Candles” parameter during TFix installation. It’s totally up for you to choose: not checking it will make the game a bit more challenging but not really that much difficult.
If you are not in full shadow you may notice that light gem flickers when you walk: that’s because moving in half-shadows will usually expose you and to prevent that you should use “Slow Walk” button. Also holding some weapons like sword, broadhead arrows and especially fire arrows will expose you more and there is not really anything much you can do, except quickly doing your business and clearing weapon slot.
Lastly, short clarification of the light gem\indicator. There are 3 basic levels of light: black – you won’t be seen even in close range, yellow – you won’t be seen from some distance, red – you will be seen even from far enough. Try to stay between former two and avoid the latter one.
Enemy AI and Awareness
Art by www.furaffinity.net – https://www.furaffinity.net/user/whaleoil1/
Another core mechanic is AI in this game, which is still praised to be one of the smartest in gaming history. But is it really so? Well, mostly, I would say the guards are not very observant, but definitely not deaf and not stupid. Like, they can spot you several times in half-shade and say “rats” but hear one loud noise and instantly start searching you. But, before going deeper, in short about alert levels: 0 – guards do not see you and do default patrolling, 1 – guards saw glimpse of you\heard light noise but don’t care, 2 – guards saw a significant amount of you\heard loud noise and start searching that spot, 3 – guards clearly see you and try to kill. This also fits for any mob in the game but the “amount” of light\noise needed to get to these levels differs from creature to creature.
So, what tricks you can use to overcome the guards? Well, apart from obvious staying in the shadows and not making noise there are more subtle ones. First of all, though red light level usually leads to instant exposure if you will be in it for a short amount of time (like jumping from door to door through lit corridor) guards from substantial distance will usually end up with level 1 alert only. Secondly, as I already said don’t be afraid of exposing yourself to yellow light level when guards are on significant distance from you – they usually don’t care. Thirdly, if you crouch behind the guard on semi-noisy surface like stone, they usually don’t care about the sound behind them. But the real invisibility comes when you are in full darkness because, if you don’t make any substantial noise, the guards will not spot you even if they pass 0.5 meters from you standing.
However, all of the above does not work when guards are level 2 alerted (and they will always be level 2 if they reached level 3 at least once). On this level they are much more attentive and will spot you even in deep darkness, let alone semi-shades. So, be careful with level 2 alerts or better just don’t push guards into it.
Last but not least, let’s talk about guards’ reactions to changing surroundings: basically, there is none. You can leave open doors, cut banners, use moss arrows, put out torches (though they will react to water arrow sound) and guards won’t care. Yeah, that may seem strange, but remember that this game was one of the first in its genre. They also won’t react to any sound caused by lockpicking or door opening.
Art from matlat.artstation.com – https://matlat.artstation.com/
This section may seem strange, because blackjack is basic as it can be, but there are still some unobvious things and tactics I want to mention.
First of all, unlike the sword, you can use blackjack while leaning, which lets you knock out guards from some distance. This also provides for an interesting tactic: imagine standing in a dark narrow corridor with the guard approaching you. This is a reload right? Not really, if you lean to the guard and time the blackjack strike you can actually knock them out and save your position. Secondly, sometimes guards stand on loud surfaces and have tight patrol timings, which make them hard to knock out, but there is a solution for this too: you can try to hold the attack button, run and jump behind the guard and attack them while they are in process of activating level 2 alert. Also, when you are running on the semi-noisy surface to the guard with your blackjack ready, the game specially holds guards reaction back so that you can do the strike. Lastly, there is a very ridiculous tactic, which though being quite cheaty, still can be used. Imagine 3 guards running after you in a bright corridor, this is definitely a reload right? Well, no, because you can throw a flash bomb, which will stan them for 3-5 seconds during which they are vulnerable to knocking out. And this way you can even intentionally draw guards into your trap and neutralize them.
However, blackjack also has some drawbacks in using in certain situations. Firstly, if you miss the strike you can hit some wall which will cause a noise. Secondly, if there is something between you and the guard, like a hanging from the low ceiling lamp, Garrett can easily hit the latter one instead of the guard instantly causing level 3 alert, so beware of the surroundings. Also, guards cannot be knocked out while in level 2 or 3 alert, and if you keep hitting them with blackjack you will just kill them instead of knocking out (but it doesn’t work for servants, you can knock them out when they are running to the closest guard). What should you do then? The answer was already given – use flash bombs. Just remember to turn away from it not to get blind yourself.
Official art for Thief Gold
By ghosting people usually mean different things: from simple game completing without level 3 alerts, up to no knock outs\no torch put out\no moss arrows used\no level 1 alerts. There are different tactics to achieve this, but the main thing I want to state here is not to try completing levels perfectly, especially if you are playing for the first time. Believe me, the game is a good challenge even on basic expert difficulty and perfect playthroughs like Supreme Ghosts are more based on knowing the levels’ layouts and exploiting the mechanics rather than actual stealth skills that game requires. Do not be afraid to receive alert levels 1 and 2 – they are common for the first playthrough and the latter one can even be useful for distracting enemies with noise-making arrows, for example. And definitely don’t try to be ghost with animals and undead: levels usually have too much of them for being ghost and it’s usually easier and funnier to run from them or kill them, using some peculiar tactics.
Because of modern stealth low difficulties some people treat saves in stealth games like a superior simplifier and even a kind of cheating, but I can assure you that beating Thief even with saves on expert is a challenge. And as I already stated in the previous section most of the perfect runs come from thorough levels knowledge and not actual skill, so trying beating games with no middle-mission saves will be a pain. Also remember all I have said about parkour clumsiness and light bugs and you will understand that saves are not some kind of cheat, but a way not to restart the level if Garrett decides not to climb onto the ledge above the lava floor.
I also would recommend using not one, but 3-5 save slots saving successively between them to unsure you will not end up in a soft-lock situation with the need to restart the level.
Shopping and equipment
Because the game is old there is no real progression here, so you won’t miss any crucial equipment pieces on any levels – all upgrades will be given to you despite your playstyle. Also, the money from the missions don’t save up, so all you have thieved from the previous you better to spend on all possible equipment for the next one. Yes, this is a very controversial decision, but it actually makes you to explore levels thoroughly and not just follow the objectives. As for shopping tips, I would always recommend to primary buy moss and water arrows because you are most likely to use them, and also have at least 1 arrow of each kind just in case. However, the perfect loadout differs from mission to mission, so if you are really afraid you are gonna fail because of equipment, you can open walkthrough and look what you will actually need. By the way, about walkthroughs…
Walkthrough Reading and Loot Collecting
Screenshot from Keeper’s Chapel
Not everyone disposes tens of hours to thoroughly explore levels and finding all secrets: many just play games for fun and relax. So, there is nothing shameful in opening and reading a walkthrough if you are stuck on something. Plus, as I already stated countless times, the game is old and some parts can be confusing, so again feel free to use walkthroughs if you feel the need. I would recommend using thief-thecircle.com – http://thief-thecircle.com/guides/keeperchapel/ though it’s quite old, and site’s design can seem too outdated and inconvenient for modern players. As for me, I personally like to read only section about secrets on the level and then go find them myself, based on their description in the walkthrough.
In addition, small note about the loot. Do not try to collect everything on the level, it usually takes a lot of time, plus some levels have loot that is very hard to collect without being exposed and on some it just bugged and cannot be acquired. However, some loot like rings or pendants can be very hard to notice so always pay attention to details and seemingly empty side rooms. Also, if you play on expert difficulty game usually requires you to gather not all but like 70-80% of level loot, so be sure to explore every corner and open every possible door.
Translations And Subtitles
Official cover for the German release of the game
Though I absolutely love the style and voiceover in Thief, I understand that not all people speak English that well to understand both church, pidgin and semi-medieval dialects. So, if you are still learning the language there is a www.ttlg.com – https://www.ttlg.com/forums/showthread.php?t=144354 which adds them to every in-game dialogue and cutscence for you could understand them properly. However, if you are not really good in English (though somehow managed to read this guide) there are several localizations for different languages. I cannot give you exact links but I know that there were official releases with complete German and French translations, and some fan-made localizations for Polish, Russian and Hungarian. Unfortunately, I cannot say anything about their quality because I don’t speak these languages, but I would encourage you to leave at least original English voiceover because it’s just a piece of art, especially for a 90’s game.
Oh, and also to save your time, the verb taff and derived from it taffer are fictional in-game worlds, which are a kind of lighter version of good old English f*ck (not in vulgar context though) and f*cker. It’s also speculated to be a dilution of Trickster much like heck is dilution of hell in modern English.
Thanks for reading this guide. It turned out to be a bit larger than I planned, so I hope you didnt get tired of reading it. And though it’s obvious, I want to clarify one more time that I DO NOT OWN ANY RIGHTS on the drawm images used in the guide and all regards go to their original authors. I used them to bring more people to original trilogy fan arts, which are now quite difficult to find, because google usually give you tons of arts on mediocre remake with few on the real series. Nevertheless, I didn’t manage to find proper links for some of the fan artists, so you can send them in the comments, or if you are an actual author you can also leave your own comment with proper links – you guys rock!
Thanks for reading, and enjoy your entering into the mysterious world of Thief.
Art by www.artstation.com – https://www.artstation.com/dominus
This is all that we can say about Thief Gold – Things you need to know before playing Thief: The Dark Project for now. I hope this post helped you. If there is anything that we should add, please let us know via comment below. See you soon!
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