Thea: The Awakening - Review

A big thanks to MuHa games who very kindly gave me a copy of the game to have a look at this week to coincide with the launch on Nintendo Switch on 1st of February (this article is based on the Steam version).  The game was developed my MuHa and initially released on PC in November 2015 and was ported to Switch by Monster Couch.

Thea: The Awakening is a survival game which combines elements of colony builder, turn-based strategy and tabletop card gaming in a cohesive package.  You will take on the role of a God who will direct their settlers in gathering, exploration, combat and, ultimately, survival.  The game is story rich, with a lot of inspiration from Slavic mythology, and has wide and varied gameplay, allowing for a variety of play styles.

Selecting the God you wish to play as, more become unlocked as you reach various milestones, increasing replayability
 To begin you will need to select your playable character which will have some overall effects on your settlers.  Initially you have 2 from which to choose, Zorya, dual Goddess of morning and evening stars, who will give and XP boost to your settlers, or Mokosh, the Mother Earth, who will give a boost to the gathering speed of your followers.  As you play as each of these characters you will level up and unlock further bonuses and playable Gods.  You can also select your main focus at this point - will you guide your followers to be great gatherers, warriors or craftspeople?  For the purposes of this article, I decided to play as Zorya and focus on warriors.

When you start the game you are introduced to the world of Thea by a guide called Theodore.  You can then choose whether to work through a fairly comprehensive tutorial, or to just go for it.  Due to the deep and complex systems, particularly with the card based combat, I'd recommend going for the tutorial.  Theodore tells us that Thea has become broken and that the Underworld is closed with undead roaming the Overworld.

Our starting village with party having moved to Theodore's tower
When you enter into the game properly, you are presented with a beautiful game world.  You will see your starting village with a small expedition group just outside the gates.  You can also see that the world is divided into hexes giving away the TBS elements.  In a turn you can do various tasks either with your village or your expedition group.  You can set your villagers to gather and craft items, move your expedition group or set them up into a camp.

Through your exploration of the world, various events will take place.  These can simply be conversations but can include combat and other encounters.  These often have more than one way in which they can be completed depending on the skills available in your party, for example when you encounter a group of wild animals you can try to do a straight combat, but you may able be able to apply some hunting skills to prevent harm to your party.  You also have the option when you have these encounters to play them out manually in the card based play, or you can have the game do the calculations and auto-resolve the encounter.

A card based hunting encounter
These encounters are a fairly complex aspect of the game.  As with most table top games your cards have different stats.  These include your health, any defence bonuses and attack power.  Your deck (made up from the members of your party) is split into an offensive stack and a tactical stack.  Your offensive cards will deal the damage, whilst your tactical cards will allow you to use certain abilities.

In the set-up phase, the player and computer take turns to play their cards, laying these from left to right.  Once both the player and AI skip a turn without placing cards, you move to the attack phase.  In this phase, the play progresses from left to right, with each card attacking the closest enemy, be that to the left or right.  Don't think that by choosing not to play cards they are immune however, as damage will be dealt to cards in the hand and discard pile once cards on the battlefield are defeated.  Any damage incurred during a fight encounter will be carried forward, damage received during an encounter such as a feat of strength will not be carried.

Moving the party to a cell farther than they can reach on this turn
Movement is done simply by selecting your party and right clicking on the cell you wish to travel to.  A yellow border shows the edge of the cells you can travel to in this turn.  You can select a further cell, but you will need to wait until the next turn to reach it.  There are also other options available when you select your party, such camping which allows you to regain health, gathering of resources you can't get at your village, or interacting with an event.

Within the village there are a number of tasks you can undertake.  These include gathering of whatever resources are nearby, crafting of tools, food and equipment and construction of buildings.  To complete these you will need to assign people to the tasks, ensuring that you choose people with the correct skills to optimise the tasks.  As time passes you will also have children in the village who will grow up to provide you with more workers and warriors.  The game also features an extensive research system which allows you to access more resources, crafting recipes and buildings as you earn research points.

As something which I would not normally pick up, this has been really refreshing, although I will admit that it took me a little bit of time and a couple of failed attempts before I really got into the game.  The game is extremely solid and I noticed no issues with performance or any bugs (granted it is a game that is now over 3 years old).  The game is visually pleasing, although it would be nice if the cards had a bit more detail or colour rather than simply appearing as a piece of parchment with a drawing.  The sound is also done very well with an atmospheric soundtrack and well executed SFX.

The game has not only spawned the recent Switch port, but also had 3 free content packs (one of which introduced multiplayer co-op) and has a sequel which entered Early Access on 30th November last year.  Even at full price of £15.99 for Switch and £14.99 on Steam I would not hesitate to say that this is a great game and well worth to money asked.

Thea: The Awakening - Review Thea: The Awakening - Review Reviewed by Parcival on February 06, 2019 Rating: 5

No comments