I didn’t even know I needed Thea: The Awakening in my life. Up until a two weeks ago I was doing just fine with what I had – doing just fine with getting tilted while playing Chaos Reborn and then releasing that rage on the endless Uruk population in Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. But then Thea sort of wiggled her way into my field of view and batted her eyelashes at me. ‘Hey baybay,’ she wooed, ‘don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?’
Yes. I was tempted by the fruit of another and I yielded. Thea’s game descriptions and screenshots and reviews were very appealing. Rock, Paper, Shotgun just yesterday posted a full review declaring that the game “breaks the mold by doing a lot of different things at once. It just needs to do all of them better.”
Now some 15 hours in, I am, admittedly, not all the way sold on Thea. But the more that I play the more I get a feel for the game. It reveals itself gradually. This is exciting as I see that I have barely scratched the surface. But I still have reservations because, at least from my semi-n00b perspective, I wonder how systematic the game will become, how repetitive will campaigns become in order to unlock new gods?
I do not agree that all of the ‘different things’ in Thea need to be done better. (I likewise do not think the RPS review does a sufficient job of analyzing the rest of all those ‘different things’. Although, Rob Zacny’s initial drafts may have included them, but because of space had to do some surgical editing.) Let not the downsides of the clumsy UI and the occasional unfair, campaign-destroying random event eclipse the big picture. If the player approaches this like he is going to play an open world 4x, he shall therefore have a Thea: Rude Awakening.
Thea: The Awakening is not assembled to be a 4x. Its cogs are designed and manufactured by disparate groups who deal in different genres. The player must find his own way of working within this menagerie. Part of this methodology is entering the mindset involved in, say, playing a roguelike/lite. The expectations of Roguelikes/lites is that survival will be difficult, perhaps even unfair, but any progress made, however piddly, will be applied to an overarching mechanic that can be made available for future play-through. With new and stronger gods to play as, Thea: The Awakening grants a more sure, confident opportunity to expand in proceeding campaigns. At that point the player can then approach Thea with the mindset (and wisdom) to conduct a 4x-like-ish game.
It is the players responsibility to learn and act accordingly. I’m getting the sense that the player’s approach to Thea evolves overtime. And that’s really cool.
But, frankly, the above words could all be a bunch of hooey hocus pocus. In theory I have hope; In reality I’m going to continue forward and deal with the toils and trials of each day/night cycle, be prepared for the harshest unexpected event the best that I can, and always keep a keen eye on the horizon.
What are you playing this weekend?