April 22, 2024

7.5

The Thaumaturge Review – Pokemon for Eastern European Mythology Buffs

Of all the mythologies covered in gaming, the Eastern European ones tend to sit at the back of the class. This is interesting, considering how closely it is connected to human psychology and sociology… well, to a degree. I guess it doesn’t help that some of the folks trying to present this call themselves Fool’s Theory, but there’s no fooling that their new game, The Thaumaturge, touches on some heavy issues with a supernatural twist. While you try to figure out how to pronounce the title, let’s dive into what this game’s about and what you can expect to learn from it.

What Is the Thaumaturge?

Image Credit: 11 bit studios.

Many European folklore have been translated into numerous stories about the supernatural and magical realism, but some of the original traditions are hardcore. The Thaumaturge may be an example as you try to grasp the basics. It’s 1905, and the Russian Empire has encompassed most of Eastern Europe, including Poland. One fancy dude named Wiktor Szulski has come seeking help to control the demons he battles to stop them from feeding on people’s flaws and making them worse than some already are. He meets Rasputin, who uses hypnosis to help him get a tight grip on his version of reality so he can go on a quest to save more communities from demons, all the while dealing with his daddy issues and the politics at the time.

That Ol’ Thaumaturge Magic

Image Credit: 11 bit studios.

Tackling history in a game can be difficult depending on how accurate you want to be or if you wish to use it as a foundation for the story and gameplay. The Thaumaturge does this effectively to the point where it may inspire you to learn more independently. It uses the backdrop of early 20th-century Warsaw, Poland, to set the stage for a supernatural adventure that mixes quite well. The design of each of the demons (called “Salutors”) is interesting and creative, with their animations speaking more for their personalities than words ever could. In certain scenes, it feels like you’re wandering through a small model of Warsaw, which is both charming and gritty.

The combat mechanics are another high point to reach for as you climb the gameplay. It’s a turn-based system with Wiktor standing tall with a bit of wizard flair against whatever hooligans or otherworldly nightmare scenarios he encounters. It puts me in the mind of Slay The Spire, where every little decision you make can decide your fate. Since Wiktor can have multiple Salutors to choose from, each with distinct abilities and purposes, you have many options but still need to employ them wisely. It’s not about avoiding hits or even staying healthy but about ending the fight quickly and figuring out the route of lesser punishment.

It’s also easy to engross yourself in what’s going on in the story and your curiosity. Many characters and scenes are popping up frequently to give you a direction to follow. Whether you follow it is up to you. Still, you can find your directions just by wandering around, reading various things, and examining incriminating evidence people leave lying around. The main story offers excitement on its own, but the route it leads you down will open up the world to the point where you’ll want to see more just for yourself.

Being a Bad Thaumaturge

Image Credit: 11 bit studios.

The more you put into your game, the more likely things will go unnoticed as not making sense or messing up the flow. Unfortunately, The Thaumaturge suffers from such issues, like the quest conveyance. You can find quests easily, and they’ll warn you if they’re time-sensitive, but you’ll never know if you can complete it until you hit a roadblock. If you don’t have the right Salutors or level-ups at the time, you simply need to do your chores before you can go back outside to play. There are also points of no return, which go unindicated and can completely lock you out of finishing your checklist.

However, the more you do, the more close-ups you’ll get of characters you’d rather not linger around. The difference in the level of quality between the Salutors and the humans is quite surprising but all understandable (the demons are the stars). Much of the hair designs look like they’re balancing on the character models, with certain ones having garish colors that distract you from whatever plot-important they may be saying. There are multiple issues of characters clipping into each other, themselves, the environment, and accessories that sit a bit away from where they should be. Luckily, the top-down zoomed-out perspective is the norm for most of the gameplay.

Also, it’s clear to perceive that the “Perception” mechanic in this game shares the same issue as the “Detective Vision” from the Batman Arkham series. In short, why would you ever not use it? So be prepared to tap the “Perceive” as you scour the city for any sort of a lead.

Tame Your Demons

Image Credit: 11 bit studios.

The Thaumaturge is a 3D turn-based adventure RPG about fighting and taming demons feeding on human flaws and then using their powers to solve problems. It’s interesting, engaging, quite challenging, and makes you want to learn more about the subject matter. It may suffer from distracting character models, a lack of quest qualification clarity, and a mechanic that could use an on/off switch, but those are just the game’s demons. Remember, you’re the Thaumaturge, and you’ve gotta fight those demons so that you can catch ’em all.

The Thaumaturge Review – Pokemon for Eastern European Mythology Buffs

Summary

The Thaumaturge is a curious and engrossing take on Polish mythology set in a tumultuous period in history. You’ll follow a grand story all the while solving supernatural crimes and fighting unique demons so you can add their powers to your own.

Pros

Creative concept and creative designs

Challenging and interesting tunr-based combat

A large story and quest structure to get lost in

Cons

Lack of clarity in quest requirements

Lesser quality character models

Tedious implementation of a key mechanic

7.5

The Thaumaturge Review – Pokemon for Eastern European Mythology Buffs