The main story takes place across nine missions, which are all fairly large and increase with size as the game goes on. Unfortunately, the majority are set out in a broadly linear fashion, with objectives set out sequentially, rather than giving you a sandbox with objectives dotted around the place. This is disappointing, but unlike Hitman: Absolution, it doesn't compromise your ability to play stealthily.
Indeed, stealth is as vital as it ever was. While most levels are progressive rather than little sandboxes, they usually have multiple paths through them, and require sneaking past patrols, sticking to the shadows, and thwacking guards across the bonce with your blackjack if you're that way inclined (although, just to make this clear, ghosting every mission is a possibility. In fact, there's a challenge to complete for each mission for doing so).
There are also a couple of bizarre missions in which there's little requirement to sneak because there's hardly anyone around. One involves exploring a classic Thief location, and the other is a tribute to what is arguably the series' greatest single level. The latter is particularly bizarre. It's nice that Square Enix pay homage like this, yet although it's a strong mission in and of itself, it's never going to live up to the original and best, so why not offer something new?
Ok, that's 800 words spent dealing with Thief's problems, so let's talk about the good stuff, because there is a lot of that too. Perhaps the most important point is that stealing stuff in Thief feels fantastic. It's an exceptionally tactile game. The way Garrett's hands grip a wall when peering around a corner, the way they nimbly pick a lock, rummage through drawers and cupboard, or feel around the frame of a painting for hidden switches that might conceal a door or a safe (the last of these is a beautiful new mechanic) they almost feel like characters of their own. Lefty and Righty, partners in crime.
When you do steal something, be it a golden cup, a gilded hairbrush or a sparkling bracelet, Garrett swipes it greedily off the surface. If it's a collectible or unique item, he will hold it up to the light, taking a moment to examine his beautiful new trinket. Garrett's gestures express more about his character than every word of the plot. This is a man fascinated by all that glitters, and the coin in his pocket those items represent.
Thieving isn't limited to the main missions either, there's a whole open city to pillage, whether you're prowling the rooftops of your own accord, or taking on the various side-missions on offer. Of these there are two types. "Basso" missions are taken from your eponymous contact, and are brief distractions that utilise the tight, twisting medieval cityscape Square Enix has built. Painted in a million shades of black, the gloominess of Thief's open world is somewhat overdone, and it lacks the character of Dishonored's Dunwall, from which Thief clearly takes a lot of inspiration in a weirdly cyclical fashion.