Do you have what it takes to re-awaken your inner god and lead your people to safety?
The ebb and flow of light and darkness in their never-ending battle has been around for as long as we can remember, recounted time and time again. Many stories and games focus on the “darkness” aspect, focusing on how those brave souls rose to the occasion to battle off the lingering evil all around them, and end with the “bright, new tomorrow” just coming into view. Think about it though; do thinks usually go from 100% bad to 100% good overnight? No, they do not. Rather, those who managed to overcome these countless trials of darkness remain vigilant, as they slowly lead the world toward the bright future as they so desire. It is during this next proverbial chapter, this so-called recovery period that Thea: The Awakening takes place.
Thea: The Awakening is a Survival-Strategy RPG that puts you in the position of a nearly powerless god attempting to rise back up to former glory. Though once powerful and well-renowned, things have since changed thanks to the occurrence of the terrible and cataclysmic force, known simply as The Darkness. The days of The Darkness have since subsided, and it is now time to watch over what few followers are left, and reclaim what is rightfully yours.
The game begins by asking the player to choose which deity that they will be controlling, with each deity boasting unique powers and characteristics. Though it is made known that players will eventually have a decent selection of gods to choose from, the game unfortunately begins with all but two character choices locked (although the two most certainly do differentiate from one another). As aforementioned, this choice is important due to the fact that each god possesses different skills. While these skills do indeed provide a large advantage, they are not merely handed to you. Rather, your deity-of-choice gains experience throughout your journey and, win or lose, will level up permanently. Why the permanent level-ups? Simple; Thea: The Awakening is a Rougelike game, my friend! That’s right, Game Overs are permanent; no fallbacks for you! With these permanent bonuses in place, no loss is truly a 100% loss.
Thea: The Awakening also provides a large amount of game mechanic customization. Though the standard “Easy”, “Normal, “Hard”, increments are available, players are able to make customized difficulties, meaning that one can choose the challenge level of almost every individual mechanic of the game, creating an experience that suits their playstyle and experience level perfectly. Of course, harder difficulties do yield better score multipliers, but that kind of thing is expected.
Once things are set to your liking, let the game begin! The main objectives are carried out not by you but by your followers. It is up to you to help your following explore the land, collect recourses, advance culturally, and, most importantly, survive. This kind of progress will not happen naturally however, and that is where you step in. Thea: The Awakening is not real-time, but turn-based. Every turn, you are tasked with directing your followers. While some tasks such as farming or blacksmithing within the confines of the village need not be monitored as sharply, those in parties outside of the village must be monitored quite closely. The Darkness may be vanishing, but its presence can still be found in various manifestations throughout the land, as can other hazards (natural or otherwise). Supplies are also very limited for those out on expeditions; carelessly forgetting to pack enough food or resources could lead to starvation, or inability to heal those injured in combat.
Not everything out in the wild is bad however and exploration, so long as one is not careless in doing so, can often yield successful results for your expedition team. Overall, things go relatively smoothly in terms of mechanics. Working villagers sometimes seem a bit slow, but this can be avoided by looking at individual strengths and weaknesses. The pacing of your parties is nicely set and the game avoids spoiling you with good events, or plaguing you with bad ones most of the time.
A card-based game is also implemented into Thea: The Awakening and appears during encounters. The rules of the game are straightforward enough; defeat enemies and don’t get defeated. Though seemingly simple, this mini-game comes with a surprising amount of rules an exceptions, and can get a little overwhelming if one is not paying attention. While there is a tutorial in place that explains the basics, there are an abundant amount of additional yielded by each party member within the card game that are not touched upon, possibly leading to misunderstandings that could cost you the life of one or more in your following. The combat isn’t by any means so confusing that it becomes impossible to play, and can actually be quite exciting, but it’s pretty easy to lose if you don’t have a full understanding of how things work.
The visual aesthetics are good, but can feel strangely dated in terms of character modeling as well as with the visuals of certain structures in-game. The character and card portraits are well-drawn and tote nice amount of detail which is good, because you’ll at least be able to appreciate the artwork of the monsters while they eradicate your expedition party.
While Thea: The Awakening doesn’t contain much in the way of sound effects or background music, it does in fact have voice acting, and quality voice acting at that. Each character with spoken lines seems to carry with them a special uniqueness and are quite believable in terms of just who, or what, they are portraying.
Thea: The Awakening is a good experience overall. The many deep elements pulled from various genres paired together fact that every map is randomly generated grants a new experience with every playthrough and ensures that players shy away from haphazardly playing, and enjoy the game no less with each new play. While I would not suggest this game to every individual who enjoys gaming, it is definitely worth checking out for those who enjoy RPGs with heavy strategy and survival elements. Will you be the one to rise back into your former glory, or will you too disappear along with The Darkness?
Final Verdict: 3.5 / 5
Available on: PC (Reviewed); Publisher: MuHa Games; Developer: MuHa Games; Release Date: November 20,2015; MSRP: $19.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of Thea: The Awakening provided by the game’s publisher, MuHa Games.