Thea: The Awakening Review
While I have never been good at 4X (explore, expand, exploit and exterminate) games, Endless Legend or any of the Sid Meier’s Civilizations titles, I still always tried my best. Something about uncovering the world while attempting to keep the peace between countries and borders all the while meticulously planning a way to take over the world was enthralling and always had me at the “just one more turn!” mindset despite having been at it for 5+ hours already. With Thea: The Awakening, I found myself doing the exact same thing. An indie title that ported over to the Nintendo Switch, it’s something even more with than a regular 4X game. With a great mix of an RPG, Slavik Folklore, blended in with Civilization-style strategy with a card-based combat system, be prepared to have a ton of snacks and drinks as you’ll most likely be playing for hours. That is if you can get through the first portion of the game after the tutorial.
The land of Thea was once a prosperous place, filled with many worshippers and many Gods who looked after their people. A mysterious darkness had invaded the lands and thus displaced and defeated many of the Gods and continues to envelop the world. With your chosen deity, it will be up to you to lead your remaining followers on a journey to reclaim your place. Upon beginning the game, you’ll eventually have a selection of 8 Gods to choose from, however, only 2 of them are immediately available for us. Each God provides their people with different benefits such as increasing the rate of experience earned or providing a raise in speed in which resources are gathered. The next choice you will be given to select will determine if the village will be more adept at combat, gathering resources or crafting.
On a hexagonal grid, you’ll begin your game with a single village and two groups of people. One group will remain in the village to improve buildings and will turn gathered materials into clothing, better buildings, tools, weaponry and food. The exploration unit will venture out into a shrouded world, completing quests for your people all the while fighting their way through orcs, spiders and all the other evils that inhabit the land.
When your party is confronted with an enemy, the people in your settlement will have no other choice but to stand and fight. If your exploration team wanders up to an enemy on the map, you’ll have the opportunity to take them down in a series of different ways. If you have individuals with a high sneak score, you’ll be able to initiate a stealth attack or if you have strategists among you that is good with poisons, you can deal with them this way instead. Engaging with enemies in this way is far safer since your people will have much less probability of getting wounded.
Deal Me In
With a card-based battle system, each member of your party is represented by a card that contains stats pertaining to their attributes and equipment. Individual hit points are determined by the amount of health on the character and attack value is obviously established by the equipped item. Added health bonus’ are added to the base stat of the character which is dependant on any armour they wear. After the first player is randomly selected to begin, both you and your foe will take turns placing cards down. Once all of the cards are laid out, your characters will battle the closest enemy in two waves. Once these two waves are over, if there are any remaining cards, the battle will begin again until one side has run out. There is a sort of tutorial that is offered at the beginning of your first encounter but unfortunately, it kind of gives you the bare minimum and doesn’t really truly show any strategy that can be used in these fights.
One of the biggest downfalls of this game is the very uninformative tutorial. It kind of gives you the gist of what you are doing but doesn’t properly explain why and in what way it can be properly utilized. The first few hours of beginning the first campaign, I had no idea what was going on. Had I not been reviewing the game, I may have rage quit trying to understand what the heck was happening. But let me tell you, once you do figure out what the heck is happening, Thea: The Awakening is simply amazing.
With a game that employs multiple means of victory through strategy, great focus on Slavic mythology and a beautiful map peppered with resources, bodies of water and forests, Thea: The Awakening will really surprise you. For fans of simulation titles with a sweet mix of RPG elements, Thea is an easy recommendation as there is very little on the Switch that even compares in the genre.
*** Nintendo Switch code provided by the publisher ***
- Complex and deep strategy
- Engaging and well-paced story
- Wonderful RPG elements
- Goals need to be more clear
- Tutorial doesn’t really offer much help