Thea: The Awakening is an Isometric turn-based strategic survival game, steeped in Slavic myth and monstrosity with RPG, 4x, rogue-like and card game elements, published and developed by MuHa Games. While this is Muha games first major release they have previously created a number of flash games such as: Town of Fears, Road Wolves, Racing Toys and Zack’s Hardware. Individual members of the team have worked on titles such as: The Witcher 2&3, DiRT Showdown, GRID 2 among others. It’s also worth noting that the studio also has created the (fast becoming popular) Honey Hex Framework available from the Unity store which Thea uses.
Thea: The Awakening: PC [Reviewed], Xbox One
Developer: MuHa Games
Release Date: 20 November 2015
Price: £14.99 [Disclosure Game Copy provided by Developer/Publisher]
Welcome to the world of Thea; An apocalyptic force known only as ‘The Darkness’ has engulfed the world for an age, warping and transforming the land and its creatures. Even the Gods themselves have been stripped of their power, only able to watch as their followers dwindled in the face of the horrors. Just as the last embers of hope began to fade the light returned to Thea once again, the Gods and the land awoke; the few remaining survivors are left with the daunting task of trying to rebuild and survive. There are many creatures warped by darkness and there are no heroes, monster slayers or great armies able to combat them. As one of the gods reawakened you must guide your people through the land that by day is at best; dangerous, but as night falls the creatures become even more aggressive. You must find out what happened to the world and how, as the return of the light may be fleeting.
Thea is a strategy based game that at first glance looks very much like “Civilisation” or “Heroes of Might and Magic” there are however a number of differences in gameplay and mechanics which turns the game into something unique and interesting. For starters the player only has one settlement throughout the game, there is an ability to set up small camps which can gather nearby resources and as such can act as a forward base of operations. However, players will only possess the ability to operate and defend these camps in mid to late game. Thea also has a heavy “choose your own adventure” influence in that random events will occur and often the player is given a number of choices in how to deal with this occurrence. This choice will not only effect this instance but may affect other events and possibly even elements of the main story. There are two available starting deities to play with, an additional six being unlockable each of which have different perks/abilities and therefore playstyles. Thea also features a deep and interesting crafting/research system.
Whilst there exists a number of different ways to face the challenges in the game, one of the easier ways is through combat, and indeed the combat system is familiar yet different. The player cannot train new units and is reliant on new survivors joining their cause as well as children being generated and growing up. There are a number of different types of survivor from warrior to farmer and a few more in-between. Those joining your village will already have a type, however children growing up will have a choice of what they can become, which can prove extremely useful. The combat itself is done via a card based mini-game, as are the different challenges, each with their own unique twist. The card mini-game is reminiscent of “Magic: The Gathering” and indeed as such whilst having the appearance of being very simple has a number of different mechanics in play that can change outcomes drastically. The game does have a high learning curve but the player is assisted with an excellent tutorial/help system that teaches the basics and is also available on hand upon request.
The game as a whole has a very substance over style feel to it, which in a game were mythology and lore are key is definitely the way to go. Being an isometric turn-based strategy the graphics are not the priority however the animations and textures are still extremely nice and help bring the lore of the game to life. One of the things players will likely notice is the graphics in combat as the various characters and creatures are as mentioned cards which are hand drawn in appearance, but as indicated what it lacks in graphics it makes up for in gameplay mechanics. The music and sound assets provide an excellent undertone for the game as a whole and like all good music and sound assets give the game that little extra boost.
Overall I have to say that although the game has a fairly high learning curve it is extremely interesting and rewarding particularly for those like myself who have an interest in mythology and lore. However, that being said there is still lots of nice elements that would interest 4x, RPG and rogue-like players alike. One of the biggest surprises for me was a fully customisable experience not just with the “choose your own adventure” elements but indeed the difficulty be can be completely customised to suit different play styles. Also as mentioned there is a rogue-like continual progression system so even if a playthrough ends in disaster the player will get some experience towards levelling up their chosen deity. One addition I would like to see is a multiple save system so different deities can be tried out. There is much more to the game than what I can cover here, if you like what you see check it out. Thea is completely mouse driven although I used the steam controller in my playthrough.