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Thea: The Awakening – Nintendo Switch

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Title: Thea: The Awakening
Developer: Muha Games
Publisher: Monster Couch
Website:  http://muhagames.com/projects/the-awakening/
Genre: 4 X Strategy / RPG
Platform: PC, Xbox, PS4, Nintendo Switch (Reviewed)
Audience: 12 – Fantasy Violence
Release Date: PC – 20/11/15, Xbox and PS4 – 31/05/17, Nintendo Switch – 01/02/19
Price: £15.99 – Rapid Reviews UK were very kindly provided with a code for this title.

What the Developers say

After a hundred years of darkness, hope awakens with the first rays of sun, finally cutting through the dark shroud. The scattered survivors of mankind come out of their hiding holes and seek out new hope. But they are not the only ones seeking to survive. The many mystical creatures lurking in the shadows are not keen for man to reclaim his place. It is up to you to lead your men away from doom and into the light…

There are no heroes, no monster slayers, and no great armies ready to banish the dark forces that plague Thea. Just a few hopeless and starving survivors, who are desperately trying to stay alive. And you: their only true hope.


In Thea: The Awakening you take on the role of a god, a patron of a small group of survivors, hopelessly trying to lead your flock through the many risks and dangers that plague Thea. Only your skill and judgement will determine whether you can save mankind from eternal Darkness.


https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/thea-the-awakening-switch/

Introduction

When I was a kid I was given an old PC by a friend of my Dad’s. This PC was ancient even then: it ran on Windows 95 and didn’t have any working sound…. However I loved my first PC and became hopelessly addicted to the only game it could play: Civilization 2!

It was at this stage in my gaming life that my great love of 4X and strategy games began. Later on I was to discover the joys of Magic the Gathering, a card-based combat game, and Minecraft, whose grip it was impossible to escape. Both which filled a large number of hours in my immediate post-university life.

So that is a very brief description of what shaped my gaming tastes and how I came to love strategy, 4X, Survival and Card Games. I always wondered if it would be possible to make a good game that did all three….. then I discovered Thea: The Awakening.

Audio and Visual

Visually, Thea: The Awakening is pretty standard fair for its genre. The village you control takes up one hex and does not expand outwards as you add buildings onto the village. The expeditions that you form with your villagers in order to explore the game world are represented by 3 people on the map who then walk when asked to move which is a nice feature. Scale is not something that is important in the world of Thea, as humans take up the same tile space as bats, villages, dungeons etc. So in terms of overall visual, the map is fairly generic – it is not amazing, but it is far from offensive.

Where Thea really shines is in the presentation of quests as the artwork attached to the text description of the task is amazingly well done. This, coupled with the presentation of the card game based combat mechanic helps to really make Thea stand out. Similarly, the individual portraits for each villager are done in a ‘pen and ink’ style which again is a really nice change from the norm for the 4X genre.

The game is very well-voiced, with the narrator reading the text of main story quests to the player. Similarly, the tutorial is given by a demon by the name of Theodore who talks to the player and is again very well voiced. Music throughout the game is atmospheric and really helps add to the overall feeling of the game world.

Gameplay and Replayability

When first starting the game, the player is given the choice of two gods to play as, a further six will unlock as the player completes tasks in the game. Each of the gods has a unique set of passive buffs that are applied to the units within the game, for instance Horos – “The Lord of the Night and Master of the Moon” – provides a benefit to villagers during the night phases. As the player completes tasks and quests, the chosen god will level up and grant bigger and better buffs to the player.

Once into the game the player will have control of a single village on a procedurally generated map with a random selection of materials and quests surrounding the village. The player can then assign the villagers to gather materials from around the village and craft items from the gathered materials to improve the ability of the villagers.

Each of the villagers is a unique individual who can be individually equipped with weapons, armour, amulets, crafting and gathering items. The villagers have individual names and portraits. This can result in a traumatic experience for the player when a villager dies (I am still getting over the death of Ingrid the Hunter). The player will keep the villagers equipment but will lose the villager upon death which is possibly worse given the limited number of people available to the player.

The village itself can be improved and expanded through the research of different buildings. For example, a watchtower which greatly increased the range of visibility around the village. The choice of building materials is similarly important as this can influence the individuals who will arrive at the village: building lots of things out of Elven wood will increase the possibility of elves arriving in the village.

Where the game excels most is during encounters. These take the form of a card-based game, during which the expeditions you have sent out, to gather resources or explore dungeons etc. will be shuffled and divided into two hands, an offensive hand and a tactical hand. The offensive hand is used to take on the opponents hand in style similar to that of popular card game Top Trumps – my attack is bigger than your defence. Whilst the tactical hand is used to buff and debuff, these cards can also be moved into combat, however they will suffer from summoning sickness for the duration of the first round of combat. Following a second round of combat, the hands are reshuffled and whole things starts again.

The game plays well on the Nintendo Switch in both handheld and docked mode, with text being easy to read and items easy to spot on the map. Where the game falls flat is with the controls. These are clunky and difficult to use at times, and often it was necessary to cycle through loads of menus to reach the menu that the player needs. Similarly, the allocation of villagers can be difficult due to the method required to assign the individual to the task desired, which can result in several villagers being inadvertently allocated to the same task. All of this could have been avoided if the game made use of the Switch touch screen and quite frankly, it is unbelievable that it does not!

The final aspect of the game that seemed somewhat odd is the fact that the player can only have one save at a time. Starting a new game will end the previous game and present the player with the score card for that game and inform them of the total XP they earned for their chosen god during that previous game.

Conclusion

Thea the Awakening attempts to cater for a multitude of game preferences and styles. Each of the parts of the game are done to a good standard, however because the game attempts to cater for all, it fails to truly shine in any one aspect. It is definitely a game that is not greater than the sum of its parts. It is worth noting though that the card-based combat mechanic is a really nice change of pace compared to 4X games.

The game benefits from a high level of replayability from the procedural nature of the map generation and the levelling up of the gods are somewhat dulled by the limit of one on going game at a time and the disappointing lack of touch screen controls.

Rapid Reviews UK Rating

If you would like to buy Thea the Awakening, it is available from any of the major digital storefronts.

Nintendo:
https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Thea-The-Awakening-1502033.html

Sony:
https://www.playstation.com/en-us/games/thea-the-awakening-ps4/

Xbox:
https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/p/thea-the-awakening/bvlf6twhbm36?activetab=pivot:overviewtab

Steam:
https://store.steampowered.com/app/378720/Thea_The_Awakening/

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