Despite being disillusioned with the reworking of 2014’s vision of Thief, could still appreciate its gritty art style and the work that went into creating the dismal City. Titan Books can always be counted on regardless of the subject matter to create a quality product, especially when it comes to art books, and The Art of Thief is no different. It’s an in-depth exploration of Square-Enix’s ambitious revival project, complete with concept and development art, detailed illustrations of Garrett’s “paradise,” and plenty of other information that acts as a thorough companion to a game that could have been so much more.
Fans of steampunk and dark industrial themes will find plenty to love in the pages of this gorgeous hardcover volume, especially given the fact that the world within Thief is just close enough to our own to be believable. It’s a pseudo-Victorian realm rife with darkness, bizarre technology, and a certain amount of grunge in a city that’s been plunged into eternal night. It’s a rich world that’s not unlike how the lives we know could have turned out in some sort of alternative history, and that’s why investigating the world through the lens of this art book is a richer experience than the game in many ways.
Nicolas Cantin’s foreword at the beginning of the book is an intriguing way to start the collection, with thoughts from the game/art director who’s obviously invested so much time in this project that you feel indebted to him. From the overview and foreword, you’re plunged into the world chapter by chapter, starting with the star of the show, Garrett. I appreciated the orderly fashion in which different concepts were introduced.
Too often you flip through the pages of a gorgeous art book, confused at what it is exactly you’re looking at, so this was a welcome change in formatting. The following chapters explore characters, loot, and even traps as the book progresses, going into exhaustive detail about some of the smallest things I would never even have considered had I not looked through the book.
I was impressed by the variety and sheer scope of the information packed within the book as well as the tasteful text placement and abundance of high-quality imagery. It’s not that I’m surprised, since despite its inspiration’s unfortunate trappings of mediocrity, there was a lot of hard work poured into this collection and it really shows. Even if you didn’t find the actual interactive portion of the franchise to your liking, there’s plenty to enjoy about this accompanying tome, especially if you can appreciate great art when you see it.