Some things never go out of style. Levi's jeans, for example. They've been around for donkey's years, starting off as denim overalls for Californian miners and maintaining the Red Tab style pretty much ever since. See - when something's just right, it doesn't need to be changed or updated.
And while Thief's developer might not fully appreciate this, they've somehow injected the mobile version of the popular sneak-'em-up with that same timeless retro charm. With the look and feel of a mid-eighties computer game, Thief: Deadly Shadows rewards you with uncomplicated gameplay and vintage appeal. Using a standard 2D platform format, you navigate each level finding keys, knocking out guards and walking through lots of doors, as is expected from the genre, but without becoming tiresome or frustrating. The missions are short and simple enough to grasp without ever being shallow or uninvolving, and to add interest these are broken up with faster-paced levels that require running and jumping over a course in the shortest possible time.
As you progress, your enemies get stronger and the missions become more elaborate, though there are constant hints that'll help you get your bearings. Picking up the right key or using the right weapon becomes a formality, leaving you to put it all into practice which, and let's face it, is the fun part. With some doors you'll need to work out the correct combination by pressing up, down, left and right in a certain order, as though you were unlocking a safe. Once opened, there is the option of peeking around the door before going through; you are, after all, playing as a thief trying his best to hide in the shadows. And hide you will, crawling behind bushes and sneaking up on unsuspecting passers-by, all in order to pick their pockets and steal as much loot as you can.
Controlling your character is straightforward, as is navigating the levels. The exception is when using your main weapon, the humble whip. This can only be used at close range and is very difficult if your enemy's moving, especially when your movement in turn slows to a virtual halt for no apparent reason. That said, speed isn't the aim of the game, and there are plenty of things to keep you busy as you ramble on your merry way, stealing everything in sight.
The presentation is good - everything you could hope for really. Visually, the graphics and animations are atmospheric, simple and clear, and when it comes to the sounds, there seems to be an emphasis on overly-dramatic effects that ring out every time you do practically anything. These can be a bit over the top, so be thankful for the volume controls on your handset. But with plenty to offer in terms of playability and objectives, Thief should keep you busy for a fair old while. It may not be futuristic and cutting-edge, but then it never set out to be. What it is, however, is an enjoyable treat with a lot to offer the pocket gamer that's hungry for adventure.
7 / 10