At no other point during our demo was there a moment where Garrett had to make that tradeoff. It was all darkness and stealth, all the time. The developer constantly emphasized the need for stealth, but didn't really clarify what happened if you were spotted and had to go on the offensive. As much as the comparison to Dishonored shouldn't be drawn, the ability to step into the light and engage enemies became very popular, rare in a genre that typically discourages such action. It would have been nice to see some clarification on the outcome of the situation if you chose to forgo the standard stealthy route, especially in a game that's so dependent on player choice.
We were also shown a second demo that focused on the technology behind the game. It was quite clear from the first look that the game was utilizing technology that isn't possible on current-generation consoles, an observation reinforced by the title's launch platforms: PC, Playstation 4 and whatever home console Microsoft is working on. The light rendering techniques and particle effects we saw aren't possible on current gaming consoles, which are roughly eight years old at this point.
For a game that's doing so much technically to bring itself to the modern age, it's a bit concerning that the same can't be said for the gameplay. The focus combat and parkour segments are interesting, but the stealth segments feel out of place and ill-constructed. In an age where developers can trust the player to be smarter, it's weird to see them assuming that the player won't notice how stupid and predictable the AI can be.
Of course, this all came from a scripted, developer-driven demo playthrough, so things could certainly play differently in the final game For now, color me skeptical on whether Thief 4 can retain and improve upon what made the series important in the first place.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.