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Review: Thea: The Awakening (Nintendo Switch)By Ofisil At 07.03.2019 21:14

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It's hard to feel fresh with the done-to-death medieval fantasy setting, and yet, Thea: The Awakening does so, despite the existence of elves, goblins, dragons, and so on. Maybe that happens because it's based more in Slavic mythology rather than Middle Earth, or due to the fact that its bleak atmosphere puts it closer to Dark Souls instead of The Elder Scrolls, or, maybe, because of the pretty artwork that this is full of, with the character designs in particular looking as if they came out of a Dungeons & Dragons rulebook.

The many pieces of lore that can be found are well-written, and help engrossing the player further into this mysterious, post-apocalyptic world, and while the main storyline behind everything isn't really something special, most will have a blast enjoying it. Sadly, in order to learn the ropes, you'll probably need to invest tons of time, as this turns out to be a very complex turn-based strategy, and, to be honest, for all the wrong reasons.

As its heart, and despite this being a mix of a 4X, a survival rogue-like, and a card battle game, this is a pretty standard Civilization-esque kind of experience. You send out expedition teams to explore the world and gather resources, while also making sure to strengthen your town, research new technologies, craft tools and weapons, and, generally, survive. There are deities to choose from, with each one benefiting your people in one way or another, random encounters that can either be handled aggressively or diplomatically, and generally, there are lots of fun things to do.

While Thea: The Awakening is a package of lots of fun things to do, though, doing these things is not always that fun. Like all 4X titles this can be a bit too repetitive, as it requires tons of micro-management, but that's not the main problem, as such issues kind of come along with the territory. No, the main flaw at hand is that this is something that you can spend a great deal of time to learn playing, and still feel overwhelmed by the amount of info thrown at you - and then there's the big mess that is the user interface.

Browsing all the different menus works as intended, with no bugs, glitches, or whatnot. Unfortunately, doing... well, anything, feels like an aggravating chore, as each step has you trying to move through a badly structured array of numbers and icons, with each window following its own slightly different control scheme and logic, essentially forcing you to stop and "think" what button to press, whereas a good UI design almost makes you forget that you are the one pushing buttons.

As a general rule, strategy titles do tend to be more complicated than your run-of-the-mill, mindless hack 'n' slasher - but that's why a finely crafted user interface is a must. Take Tropico (the original), for instance: insanely complex, yet almost everything was one or two button presses away, with the gazillion of available info organised in the best possible way. A bad game? Nope. Thea: The Awakening is a strategy title with high replay value and lots of "heart," but it's all underneath cluttered menus and an overall user unfriendly game design.

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Final Score
Never mind the fact that [i]Thea: The Awakening[/i] can frequently feel like a needlessly complicated 4X stategy/survival rogue-like/card battler. If that was its only issue, this would be an easy recommendation. Regrettably, the inconvenience that is its user interface mars what could be something really awesome.

6

/10

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