“Thea: The Awakening” banishes the darkness of boredom

Imagine that you are a god. A fraction of your power has been stolen, and, as such, your watch over your believers has been lax for quite some time. The world you observe has been cloaked in darkness for many years, until now. A waning and waxing light settles over the land, bathing half the year in darkness. The bonds between the underworld, the human world and the gods’ realm have been shattered with the burning of the Cosmic Tree, which links them all. The creatures of the night have taken over the land, terrorizing the remaining denizens. Your surviving worshippers inhabit a small, tenuously preserved village. You must guide them to ensure their livelihood and your power’s reclamation, and to solve the mystery of the darkness. You will also face a myriad of unexpected challenges along the way.

“Thea: The Awakening” is best described as an amalgam of “Settlers of Catan,” “Magic: The Gathering” and a classic top-down role playing game. While “Thea” does take some effort to learn, since the mechanics of the game are unique, the in-depth storytelling, stunning artwork and interactive plot make it more than worth the learning curve. There is plenty to do, especially for an indie game, and every quest line has a multitude of options, some of which need to be unlocked by specific skills.

In the beginning you chose which god you will act as. Many need to be unlocked after playthroughs. After that, you meet your village. You can craft food, armor, weapons, buildings, and more. More excitingly, new members of your tribe — even from other races — can be acquired in many different ways. Each child that comes of age will also be assigned a profession (worker, craftsman, warrior and, occasionally, medic). Oh, and everything from village to person is nameable.

In order to gather resources, explore the land, defeat enemies and complete goals, you send groups of your tribe on expeditions with food and wood rations to keep them alive on their journeys. It is important to balance the skills of your parties, since some challenges rely on classic fighting, but many others may focus on social, magical, stealth and hunting skills, among others.

Many of the creatures you meet on your quests are familiar, but some may be entirely new. Orcs and elves paint a classic RPG picture, but the personalities each different encounter contains makes them feel fresh. Strigas, bugays, leshys, pineconettes and cmuch may be familiar to those well-acquainted with Slavic mythology but aren’t often seen in video game lore.

Between the plethora of characters and the sheer amount of encounters and side quests, “Thea” is certainly worth replaying again and again. In roughly 30 hours of play, I’ve only encountered 14 percent of the game’s events. The difficulty, number of enemies and size of world are all highly customizable, making each game wildly different from the beginning — even if your choices are the same.

For $19.99 on Steam, “Thea: The Awakening” is insanely replayable and therefore a great on-the-budget choice for college gamers. Available, unfortunately, only on PC, “Thea” is certainly worth learning more about. Investigate yourself by checking out the title on Steam, or visit developers MuHa on their webpage.