A gramophone that plays back a prerecorded message or song when activated by Garrett, in TDS

Sound is an integral part of gameplay, and unlike other stealthy-shooter games, is not only for environmental immersion but also enabling the player to understand his surroundings and determine Garrett's audibility, other characters in the vicinity, their movement, location, actions or words. The careful use of sound effects has been hailed as an industry-wide innovation, ranking Thief amongst the best video-games ever developed.

Sound Effects

The basic concept in the Thief games is avoiding combat, avoiding well-lit or visible areas and routes so the player must be aware of nearby events even in low-light conditions.

  • Accurately determining Garrett's own audibility due to movements or actions, to change behavior or stealth accordingly.
  • Monitoring invisible opponents, such as those around the corner or on a floor above or below.
  • Learning about characters, loot and side-quests, by listening to characters' lip-synced speech.
  • The most immersive factor, a major contributor to the game's atmosphere.


Main Article: Undetected Approach

Making too much noise can alert nearby guards, who will grow suspicious and come looking for intruders. There are a variety of tactics to avoid being heard, such as walking gently, steering clear of noisy pavement, or using Moss Arrows to create a carpet that muffles the sound of footsteps. Different surfaces have varying degrees of sound - Rugs are very soft, followed by bare ground, then wood and stone, then metal and tile as the loudest.

Sound Tracks

The Soundtracks that accompany the Sound Effects in every Thief game, are essential to immerse the player in the varied locations within the Thief universe, city areas, buildings and underground areas. Eric Brosius composed the sound tracks for every Thief game, creating the dark and foreboding ambiance necessary to give the player a sense of the mission or city location and its history, and the general atmosphere of the Thief universe.

Sound Environments

T1/TG and T2

After Thief: The Dark Project patch 1.33 the series support Creative Labs' EAX 2.0 (Environmental Audio Extensions). Both of Thief Gold and Thief II: The Metal Age support it. This technology allows different 'areas' (room brushes) to have different acoustical properties like echo, reverberation, sound loudness and etc. EAX allows the Thief sound engine to play sounds that give the player a greater sense of space. This lets the player immerse themself even deeper into the world as now they can feel, in the aspect of sound, whether they are in a large hall, or a cavern, or whether the room is well furnished or simply a closet.

EAX environments:

Name Sounds Like Room Examples
Small Dead sounds are just a bit muffled but still clear, with absolutely no reverb small closet or bedroom
Small Normal sounds are less clear and get a specific resounding tone, as the rooms feels larger, but still no echo storage room
Small Live sound like Small Dead, but has a light but distinct echo dining hall or larger living room
Large Dead sounds are clear, with a light and distant echo outside street or garden
Large Normal get the same specific resounding tone as Small Normal, but has a distinct reverb, feels like a closed space large storage room
Large Live sounds are less clear like with Large Normal, but the echo gives the feeling of a wider space a huge room or outside woods or cliffs
Dead Hallway sounds are very clear, neither muffled nor echoing small corridor or normal bedroom/living room
Normal Hallway same specific resounding tone as Large Normal, but louder and more distinct long but narrow corridor
Live Hallway sounds like Normal Hallway, but the echo is louder and gives the feeling of a larger and longer space very large hallway or corridor
Tunnels has a distinct louder echo, feels like a large open space large tunnels, yards or outside areas.
Caverns has the same echo as Tunnels, but it is more prolonged and feels like it's going to the far ends of the room caves or large tunnels
Sewers has a similar loud and distinct echo as Tunnels, but feels like a closed, narrow space sewers or metal tunnels

If your sound card supports EAX and you have enabled sound hardware acceleration, Thief will automatically use EAX.


Thief: Deadly Shadows supports all the way up to EAX 4. The option "EAX Advanced HD" in Thief 3 requires only EAX 3.0 sound card and it enables the basic reverb mixing. The option "EAX Multiple Environments" however requires EAX 4.0 support, as it allows multiple simultaneous reverb environments, which basically means even more of an improvement in realism.

External Links

Games T1 Icon.png Thief: The Dark Project · TG Icon.pngThief Gold · T2 Icon.png Thief II: The Metal Age · TDS Icon.png Thief: Deadly Shadows · T4 icon.gif Thief (reboot)
Game Design Storyline · Lighting · Sound · Weapons · Abilities · Light Gem · Compass · Loot · Approach · Architecture · Cut scenes
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.