Thief accessibility review

Josh Straub4 minute read

Thief will forever be known as a primogenitor of the stealth genre. The newest reboot of Thief by Square Enix holds true to the classic Thief formula while treating the player to updated graphics and gameplay mechanics. From the standpoint of game quality, it’s mostly all good. However, from the standpoint of accessibility the new Thief represents a rewarding mine-field, which can be enjoyable if players are able to navigate through it without running into major barriers.

When it comes to visual accessibility, the biggest issue by far is that Thief is an incredibly dark game. Even without a sight disability, the game can be hard enough to see given its dark color palette. Thankfully, it seems that nothing relies on color alone, and that all interactions within the game are marked by easy to see features such as drawers which have button symbols that pop up over them when they are able to be opened and looted or items in the environment that twinkle if they can be picked up. Even with these features, lighting is still an issue, especially when it comes to traversal of the hub world, the city. For example, in one mission Garrett must enter a house and disarm traps to earn a fee, however, it is unclear to the player that there is a secondary exit from this house that leads you to your next mission. The problem is that because the room is so dark the secondary exit is not apparent, and the game gives you no cues that you should be searching for another way out. Situations like these can be aggravated by a sight disability, because traversing the city requires the ability to see a path through incredibly dark areas. Thankfully, the screen brightness is adjustable on the fly, so if players don’t mind playing with the world a bit over exposed, most of these problems should be alleviated.

More issues arrive for players with fine-motor disabilities. One of the biggest issues is that Thief is a game of incredible finesse, whether it’s running your hands behind a painting looking for the small circular grey light to pop up on the screen that indicates a secret switch, or stalking a member of the watch that may at any minute turn around and gank you. Thief is not for the faint of heart, it require players to use a lot of precision, since every move counts. To make matters worse, there is no controller customization of any kind, not even a mode for left-handed players. So if you can’t access the default controller layout, that’s just tough-luck. However, there is one saving grace, the game is not difficult in these precise maneuvers, outside of the fact that they are simply very precise. If a player makes a mistake, they won’t have to spend a lot of time retreading the same ground given that Thief features a save on the fly system, and lots and lots of checkpoints. Unfortunately however, this only does so much to alleviate a game which relies heavily on precise controller movements, and doesn’t allow any controller customization.

Finally the players that may struggle the most with Thief are those with auditory disabilities, the game does feature comprehensive sub-titles, which even include the random NPC dialogue that Garrett overhears as he makes his way through the plague ridden streets. In a normal stealth based game, this may be enough to mark the game as thoroughly accessible, but with Thief, this isn’t enough since every sound matters. Whether it’s knocking over a bottle while ransacking a house, or choosing whether to step on hardwood or carpet when traversing a level, every ambient noise has impact on the gameplay, and these aren’t subtitled. Hearing Impaired players will still be able to play the game, but they will have to be incredibly observant to notice the visual cues that take the place of missing ambient audio cues.

On the whole, the new Thief is an incredibly good game, and a must-play for anyone who enjoys stealth games, but disabled gamers need to enter the experience with their eyesopen and realize that there will be lots of barriers that they may run up against, especially for the fine motor or hearing impaired.

Overall Rating: Partially Accessible
Visual Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Fine-Motor Rating: Partially Accessible
Auditory Rating: Partially Accessible
Released For: PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
ESRB Rating: M
GameInformer Score: 8.00


– Items that the player can interact with are clearly marked in

– Dark colors can make it hard to see where the player is supposed to go next.

Fine Motor

– Precise actions are very easy.

– Game cannot be played with one hand.


– Ambient dialogue is thoroughly subtitled.

– Ambient noise is not subtitled.

This article has been transferred from DAGERSystem (now AbilityPoints). Scores, formatting, and writing style may differ from original CIPT content.

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