Thea: The Awakening
Top Critic Average
Thea: The Awakening is a mishmash of different genres that could have come out feeling jumbled and confused. However, some smart design choices allows Thea to be something bigger and better than the sum of its parts and brings its interesting experience over from PC to console rather successfully.
The game is certainly not a bad showing of a top down survival 4X title, but when compared to other similar titles in the genre, there isn’t really anything to pull the player back in for more.
Thea: The Awakening is one of many games that ended up slipping through the cracks around here for one reason or another, meaning the Nintendo Switch release is my first real experience with it, but all of the talk I’d heard about how it incorporates a number of totally different genres without becoming defined by any of its disparate elements was 100% accurate. Chatter about Thea: The Awakening‘s PC version being superior to its console counterparts also ended up having some substance behind it.
If you’re looking for an impressively varied strategy simulation title, there’s little else on the Switch that compares to Thea. Its mechanics take a solid amount of time to pick up, but once you have a good grasp on things, you can settle into a nice and comfortable gameplay loop. Your ultimate goal might be a large town, or a dedicated group of high-level warriors. Whatever it is, Thea gives you a great deal of freedom to do it, as long as you trust and prepare for the unexpected. For fans of simulation titles, Thea is an easy recommendation – for Role-playing enthusiasts, it might be a bit of a risk. If you’re willing to submit to the gods and take risks, you’ll find a game with satisfying depth, mixed presentation, and a lengthy and fun campaign loop.
There's a lot of good in Thea: The Awakening. Nearly every bit of text is voiced, it's cool being able to grow your group of people, handling combat head-on or simply selecting to auto-resolve is implemented well, and there's a great deal of customization.
Thea combines 4X, Card Games, crafting, and more to make an interesting beast that ultimately struggles to carry its own weight despite novelty.
I can't recommend Thea. If there's something to note, it's the fact that it runs pretty smoothly and without crashes. Like you should. Away from this game.
It might look like Civilization on the surface, but once you realise it's actually a hybrid of card game, gamebook, RPG, and strategy game you'll be hard pressed to think of anything that you've played this year that's more fundamentally fascinating than this one. [OpenCritic note: Matt Sainsbury reviewed both the PS4 and PC versions. Their scores have been averaged.]
A single playthrough can last hundreds of turns but once you've earned a victory, it will simply unlock new quests and options. The complexity leads to all sorts of different ways you can enjoy your time but also creates a gigantic barrier to entry. Without watching a YouTube video of a playthrough being completed and explained on the fly I may have just given up, which would have been a shame because Thea is a fantastic title worth spending the time to figure out.
Thea: The Awakening is good. Very, very good, and where something like Civilization is hard to play in short bursts, Thea is an ideal title for train trips and the like. I have no idea how the team has handled the sequel (currently in Early Access on Steam), but with this first one, there is a superb foundation here for what could become one truly special franchise.