I have found myself to be a selective fan of strategy games. I always found myself enjoying them at a younger age, playing through games like “Age of Empires” and early “Total War”, so after taking a look at Thea: The Awakening, I became left with a little nostalgic feeling and had to give it a try. I have been playing Thea on the PC for the last few days and found myself hooked within the first 15 minutes of gameplay, which as this point, is still part of the initial tutorial.
This turn based strategy survival takes place on the world known as Thea. Thea is slowly decaying from a combination of curses and death that have spread rapidly over the regions, making it near impossible for anyone to survive. To survive, the player needs to control the villagers in the most effective way possible, accomplishing tasks such as gathering food or materials, crafting and salvaging anything you can find from the vicinity outside the village. You play as a God which you choose from a selection that is available, each giving different benefits to make survival more accomplishable during the course of the play through.
The controls for the game are pretty straight forward, you click to select either your village or party to bring up a small selection of available options. For the village these options are mainly to manage the tasks for the available people as some have particular skill sets, such as being advanced gatherers or crafters, bringing down the time turns needed for gathering food, materials, crafting, constructing or cooking. These all help increase the chance of survival as defenses can be built, cooked food cures more hunger and crafting armour, weapons and clothing keep them warm with the items to be able to defend themselves against ambushes from outside the village walls.
The game uses an interesting set of mechanics to finalize a conclusion. These can be anything from combat to persuasion, but all work under the same scenario. The player is presented with card representations of the characters in the active party that is taking part in the discussion or combat. The cards are split into two sets which represent an active team and a support team. The active teams are up to the player to be able to place strategically in a battle scenario and the support team can join this battle on the second cycle or use skills that boost the active team cards. For combat, the characters have different damage levels, when trying to persuade on an encounter they have different levels of manipulation, hunting they have different trap levels and so on. The winning team is the team that defeats all cards of the enemies.
This is a key part of the gameplay as in combat scenarios, if the characters lose all health points and the party has no food, the characters will die, being lost from the game. The more characters you lose the more difficult the game will become which will eventually lead to a loss for the player. The first few times can seem a bit daunting as the system seems to be more complicated than it is, so once you overcome it, it is quite an enjoyable feature.
The game graphics are very pleasing, it has a similar style to more recent Civilization which is understandable as the series seems to have defined the style of this genre. Thea has taken it a step outside of the box, the game has a gritty darkness to its presentation, not only on the observatory screen for the players control but also in the conclusion feature. This makes it feel a little different and help Thea stand out from games that possess any similarities.
The soundtrack for this game has a lot of very ambient sounds which help set the mood quite effectively, it is also quite an enjoyable soundtrack which I found to be quite relaxing.There are few sound effects in the game. I think I would have liked to see some more sound effects for actions or the movement of groups and enemies as I think it may have aided in catching a bit more attention, also listening out for enemies in a close vicinity even when not on-screen.
There are two main points about this game which bring quite a significant replayability value. The first is simply the choice of Gods that are available. Each God brings different benefits to each play through, so each time the game will have a varied style of play so that survival can be endured for the longest possible time. Second is that the majority of the Gods have to be unlocked as initially only two are available, in turn presenting a large amount of encouragement for the player to keep return so that all possible characters are available. Even after reviewing the game I can guarantee that I will be returning to play without any second thought.
Thea: The Awakening brings some new interesting ideas to the survival strategy genre, raising a curiosity for any player that is already a fan of this group but also encourages players that are new to this type of game since they have more of a variety available with some fun and exciting new aspects that can be considered. I would happily recommend this game and will be revisiting it myself in the near future.
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