A Thief 2 prototype surfaced on the internet recently, over two decades after the action game released on PC, and it contains all manner of insights into the game’s development process and how Looking Glass changed some of its most well-known missions work. The prototype is essentially unplayable given that most of its stages lack important assets or just don’t exist, but that makes it even more impressive. Less than a year after this rough build’s birth, Looking Glass launched the full, polished game.
Romain Barilliot, a level designer with Deathloop studio Arkane Lyon, posted a lengthy thread on Twitter breaking down some of the prototype’s more notable aspects and how it changed from this early playable build and the final product. It seems particularly relevant considering the recent GTA 6 leaks and the outcry in some vocal quarters over how unfinished the game – which is literally unfinished – looks.
Anyhow, the playable prototype shows some significant changes to Shipping & Storage, which apparently had a third large building in earlier versions of the game. This and other stages didn’t have catwalks yet, a small detail, but one that would have completely transformed how you approach missions.
Even environments and stages that Barilliot says were nearly 100 percent complete were missing objects, furniture, and other interactable elements, but one of the most interesting differences is in Shoalsgate. The basement includes an actual maze, and the connecting passages include anything from skeletons to treasure chests and water traps.
Some important elements such as ambush, were so unstable that Barilliot says they broke the game entirely, while a handful of stages including Eavesdropping were basically just lines and a few backgrounds.
The prototype is a fascinating and rare look not just at a game’s early stages, but at how drastically designs can change over time.
If the Thief 2 prototype awakened an itch for more stealth goodness, check out our picks for the best stealth games on PC And if you need a bit of fun without making your wallet cry in pain, our list if the best free games on PC probably has what you’re looking for.