"Bad Debts" is the first mission of Melan, one of the current reigning masters of Thief citycraft.
As with any open, vertical city mission there are many paths to take: streets, ledges, windows, sewers. While you'll likely spend a lot of time running and sneaking through the streets between your objectives, you'll find access to many if not most of your rewards above and below them. It is especially worth exploring the mazelike sewer system, which is probably too confusing to use to navigate the city, but grants access to an impressive secret area should you explore it thoroughly.
The story and readables are well put together: most crucial aspects (including the aforementioned secret) are hinted at. The premise involves relieving as associate of an annoying debt by robbing the holder of its bill. It ends up not being that simple, however: a few twists will having you hitting many locations in the city, but without much in the way of backtracking, for there are enough routes to take to keep things interesting and fresh.
With this nonlinear aspect in mind, some players may lament the lack of an automap. Personally I prefer it that way: I take pleasure in getting lost and pressing forward anyway, and usually find it an enjoyable challenge to be forced to use map, compass, and landmarks to navigate an open map. However, there's a certain balance to be struck. In this case, the map is fairly detailed, with street drawings that approximately follow the actual shape of the street, and labels for crucial locations. Unfortunately, it took a while before I could really make use of it: since the starting area is unmarked, I had to more or less wander randomly until I found an identifiable landmark and then orient myself from there. Additionally, there are street names labeled on the map, but no street signs. This may be a bit of a quibble, and didn't affect my enjoyment all that much, but I'd like to mention it anyway for future FM authors who make big city missions and choose to forego the automap route.
Visually the map is pleasing, fine geometry and texture usage without being very high on the detail side. The lighting and mood is appropriately gloomy.
I have played this author's other missions before and thoroughly enjoyed them (but will have to replay before I review them). If you have yet to play Melan's missions, which I recommend to all fans of nonlinear missions and Thief cities, I'd recommend starting with this one, as they only get better from here.
star 8 / 10