‘Gloomwood’ Is More Than Just a Spiritual Successor to ‘Thief’

In Gloomwood—the Thief-inspired stealth-action survival horror shooter by New Blood Interactive—you play as a doctor. In the game’s opening moments you awaken, hazy, on a floor covered with meat. It compresses grossly and softly beneath your feet, masking your footfalls. The place you have found yourself in is very sick. Masked, poorly armed but deadly guards wander the halls, caves, and lightly forested coast of Gloomwood, coughing and wheezing through their respirators. Corpses litter the place. Some bloody, others covered in bile. And so, you do what a doctor is supposed to do: diagnose and treat the illness. It just so happens that, in Gloomwood, you go about treating that illness with a cane sword and handgun.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/epzb7e/gloomwood-is-more-than-just-a-spiritual-successor-to-thief
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I enjoyed this! There’s only a couple hours of content in Early Access right now but it’s a pretty promising start. Like the article indicates, it definitely has a distinct identity from Thief, mining those games’ spooky vibes at its own pace for its own witchy world. There’s enough attention to detail that it also comes off less empty or repetitive than many similar indie projects.

There’s a couple frustrations I had, namely that it’s easy to forget both that your cane sword has a block button and that holstering makes you run faster, meaning sometimes breaking stealth feels a little too swiftly punishing especially with the current save system and top movement speed. The cave section in particular kinda stank until I realized how far the OHK stealth stab reaches and figured out the initially unclear dog sightlines. Reminded me a bit too much Thief 1’s deviation into non-human enemies/environments in that regard.

Still, for the most part it’s already a satisfying and cogent thing with some nice surprises, like gibs as distraction items . And it’s just super neat to see this quiet, deceptively simple take on the genre really coming back with charm n zest. I think leaning into the survival horror adventure element is also making it more palatable than leaning toward Thief 2’s more fan-beloved but more utilitarian sim (see: honestly kinda boring) approach, which again is what most successor projects try for.

Tangentially, New Blood’s recent history, like the quality of this and Ultrakill’s steady development, is making them look very genuinely supportive of their devs. including hiring trans artist Francis Xie, who’d already worked on a bunch of their shit including Gloomwood as a 2D artist-- along with a lot of openly queer NSFW fan art of NB’s characters that they’ve always seemed wholly chill about-- as a fulltime employee just as this came out. :metal:

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I have also been playing this, and it’s good! I enjoyed the demo when it came out a couple of years ago, but back then it felt a lot like a Thief level with a few different mechanics on top. This version is more like Resident Evil 4 with Thief mechanics. It’s WILD how pinpointed to my tastes it feels! I consider both of those games among the best designed games of all time. The combination really is something exceptional, at least so far.

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relatedly idk how intentional of an RE2 echo the turning off a generator and dealing w/ dogs loose from their kennel shortly after bit is, but considering this is currently Resident Thievil, I could believe that’s a real nod lol.

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I would believe that’s an intentional callback! The devs clearly have a lot of love for the series. The inventory system is the classic Resident Evil tetris attache case. (I have to say that the way that your character has to open the briefcase physically in the world is an excellent touch! I laughed out loud the first time I realized you could open it up on top of a desk!) There’s also the building in the third level that’s setup an awful lot like the house you have to defend near the start of RE4. The guard inside even patrols from window to window like just like the player does in RE4.

I think I’ll probably finish up the available levels tonight. I totally get waiting for the game to get out of early access to play it all in one go, but this seems like it will be fun to play in early access. I’m excited to play the new levels as they come out!

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