A few weeks back I started a re-play of Thief Gold from Looking Glass Studios.

Had played Thief (the original release), and then Thief Gold, long ago. I think I played Thief right at release - I remember a roommate in college downloading the demo and being amazed, and then going out and getting the full release. Then got Gold sometime thereafter ('99? 2000?) and played it again. Haven't touched it since.

Last year I played the 2014 Thief and was underwhelmed. The same tools (rope, water, noise arrows, etc.), but very limited places to use them and a heavy emphasis on "controllable cut-scenes" where you are effectively running on rails.

Wanted to revisit the original to understand why I fell in love with the series in the first place - and it was refreshing. Wide open levels, with lots of choices about where and how to use your tools - there is a lot of "game" here, it's not just an interactive movie. Tons of secrets to discover. Snarky commentary from the main character to inject a little personality into it. Level designs are memorable - going again to these places even 20 years later was like going back to a favorite place; it's amazing how they injected a real sense of design into the 3D environment.

Can't help but feel that we've lost something in the intervening time. The graphics are better, but that's not resulting in more fun - more player freedom, choice, agency. PC games used to be great in that they'd give you a set of options and then give you a big playground to go wild with them - there is some of that these days (Minecraft, Palworld, etc.) but I'm not sure other games give you that same set of freedom like the old Thief did.

On a side note...I'm not sure that Gold was actually a huge improvement over the original, now that I revisit it. They have more broad and open levels (the Mage Tower, for example) but I'm not sure these additions are as refined - the broad, open spaces in the Mage Tower, for example, made it a little too easy to sneak around.

I am now getting into Thief 3 (Deadly Shadows) and it's also a bit lackluster...but I should go back and see if I can round out the trilogy, put it to rest. Then I want to go into some of the fan missions for Thief / Thief 2 which I hear are really amazing - ex: The Black Parade, which recently released, is getting rave reviews.