Where The Unknown Lurks is a strange animal. It's a tiny, two objective in-and-out nick stuff mission with a much larger optional Bonehoard style space hidden under a secret beneath it. It's entirely possible to never see two thirds of the mission because you can simply avoid finding out about or completing the secret puzzle. The mansion space is small, cozy and sparsely populated, so the mission itself is a walk in the park.
The undead church level below, however, is a different beast. I'm quite confident in saying that it performs to true Looking Glass Software standards for undead levels- that is; unwanted, unpleasant, unedifying and unnecessary. The zombies in WTUL, already intensely irritating to fight and boring to sneak past in vanilla Thief, have been buffed to be completely immune to anything short of three holy water arrows. Beyond that the other two usual undead enemies appear and the only fun to be had is leading the haunts to areas where mechanists patrol to get them to infight- a fight that, sadly, a haunt will always win without a scratch one-on-one. There are at least two objectives in the crypt- a grab-the-macguffin task and a longer complete-the-monument style objective that I decided not to complete given I couldn't figure out how to trigger it to start and it would take me through the undead-infested architecture more times than I cared for. Additionally, there are a couple of places where the construction of said architecture prevents Garrett from crouching at a time when he needs to drop off something quietly, which further irritated me.
The question of how to rate WTUL is a perplexing one. The upstairs level is perfectly charming and fun, but far too small to really be called a mission by itself, even if it does contain all the obligatory objectives. The subterranean space is, as all undead levels, an absolute drag that spits in the face of the core of Thief, but it's completely optional. I resent the FM for misrepresenting what it is... but is it in fact that at all if the objectionable content need not be completed? I don't know. All I can do is average my scores for each category between the two levels and trust that will be sufficient.
Thanks for the review,
I didn't buff the undead tho, they are completly normal zombies.
Also maybe this is why it's also frustrating to you, but did you know that you can backstab (fully charged) Haunts and they die in 1 hit? You can also backstab (don't remember if 1 charged hit is enough) zombies to knock them down easily, just don't alert them afterwards.
It's also surprising that you find first part of the mission better, since nearly everyone (including me) thinks that second part is 10 times better, more atmospheric and much better designed, but I know some people just don't enjoy undead in Thief games.
I also don't understand the "as all undead levels, an absolute drag that spits in the face of the core of Thief" part. Undead were always big part of Thief, even if they dumbed-down on those in T2, Ion Storm (which consisted of a lot of Looking Glass Studios employees) made Deadly Shadows afterwards, which had a lot of undead parts showing that they liked and continued that aspect of Thief.
If you didn't buff the zombies then presumably there was some sort of bug involved either in the FM or my installation, because Garrett's sword passed completely through them without even connecting. This happened multiple times with different zombies and made them completely impossible to backstab. Broadhead arrows did connect but didn't seem to do any damage, and the one zombie I did kill required three holy water arrows straight to the torso (I chose to kill the one patrolling the spiral staircase around the stone tube you can climb out of the water into, because that one would constantly be alerted by Garrett jumping off the sarcophagus out, which I found myself unable to crouch on). I am aware you can backstab Haunts, and where possible did do this because they're a pain to fight. Apparitions, as usual, can be easily backstabbed and even if you screw it up stunlocked to hell, so I didn't feel the need to mention the one I did encounter.
I have never liked undead levels in Thief because there's no diegetic reason beyond being less annoyed and getting the jump on formidable enemies for Garrett to sneak in them. Zombies can't call the cops, Haunts don't sound alarms. Apparitions don't understand the concept of private property. There aren't any in-fiction consequences for Garrett being seen in a largely lawless and unexplored environment. It's not Thief-ey beyond the basic concept of stealing stuff, and- is it even really stealing? The owners of the things Garrett takes from these environments are not alive, the items exist in an environment separated from living civilisation and most of the recovery efforts he finds himself up against are explicitly villainous. If what draws you to Thief specifically rather than stealth games in general is the experience of looting a civilised constructed space while opposing sapient beings against whom you are secretly violating a major social contract, which is definitely what draws me to Thief and I know I'm not alone, then undead levels have none of that. Who cares if Garrett's seen? There are no consequences beyond having to run away from a zombie until it forgets about him.
To your credit you tried to mitigate this a little by filling the upper level of the cathedral with Mechanists, but they are still themselves interlopers in an environment where if Garrett killed them all their bodies would never be found- it isn't interesting. I don't like undead levels, I don't think they're in the spirit of what's good about the rest of Thief and I don't appreciate one masquerading as a different kind of FM, sorry.
Rated 8 star
I quite like zombies because they are different from so-called "living opponents". They react differently, express themselves differently. While I clearly understand that it may be confusing and enraging for many people, it refreshes gameplay and makes in more variable: I need to develop other tactics, listen to reactions of them because I should understand where and when they are noticing me. It is different experience overall. So I have no problems with rating of "Where the Unknown Lurks"))
I like the atmosphere in this one. The plot itself is more "environmental" and serves primarily as source to our imagination - what happened here, what mechanists are doing. I mostly like the nonlinear architecture here - in both parts - in Pless's mansion and in that cathedral: it almost no constrains you with keyhunt and provides multiple pathways. My biggest ussue is that the mission is too small and easy in both mansion and in underground sections. There was no challenge for me - well, except that face in one of cylindrical halls which may be should be lit brighter. My general rating is solid 8/10.
Rated 8 star
Rated 8 star
While you can´t argue about taste and preference, and not liking certain scenarios is a matter of that, the explanation is so wrong and a bold statement. In that way I could also argue the Pagans are nonsense because they aren´t part of "society". Undead were always part of the Thief universe, and Thief was in fact intended to be spooky(the devs said they were inspired by Diablo), and they play their role as evil force. They aren´t comparable to guards, they are just enemies that fight everything that lives. It could even be arguet that Garrett robs haunted places just because it doesn´t draw too much attention as like robbing the scepter of Bafford or other valuables from nobles.
So overall, if someone thinks undead don´t belong into Thief, that´s like stating Hobbits don´t belong into the LOTR world. Regardless of the setting, it´s an offering of entertainment, and the choice is up to the player/reader/watcher to take it or not.