Review by Kieran Sutton
Are you unsure whether you’d like to play a Trading Card, fantasy RPG, 4X strategy, or survival game? Now exiting early access is a genuine treat that somehow combines them all into an exciting yet challenging experience. Thea 2 The Shattering, by Muha Games kept me enthralled turn after turn.
Thea is set in a fantasy realm of Slavic mythology – you’ll encounter gods, witches, various demons, people, goblins and a whole mythology of naughty and nice critters in your adventure. You are the champion of your chosen god and must investigate the shattering of the realm. Your path is very much shaped by the choices you make, and Thea does a fantastic job of flipping your expectations. That traveling merchant? Turns out he was a bastard. That gang of goblins; great ale, and fantastic stories to share! Those cheeky water nymphs? They have their own problems.
I initially decided to roleplay a loyal lover of Lada, goddess of lights settling a charming village of peace-loving gatherers and healers before being robbed by demons of the forest one too many times and re-rolling as a night-time embracing servant of nature and the magic. The latter went substantially better. After a little mishap with a shadow ritual that totally wasn’t my fault, I had to sacrifice a powerful item to bring back my chosen; then continued my path of conquest, taking what I needed from this beautiful world.
Clear UI, easy to navigate world and great character art; in both the world view and stat/inventory pages. Music is nothing to shout about, basic drums and tension building tones fills the background but little more. To my surprise more and more of the quests are voiced, which really build the sense of immersion to truly drag you in to the world.
In fact the art in the quests and dialogue steals the show; I’ve never heard of a hochlich or skshack before but the art brings the hideous creatures to life. Even all of the astounding armoury and resources have unique artwork.
If you’re expecting to drop into a typical 4x city builder, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Thea starts slow in that sense but there’s an incredibly vast amount of content. You’ll begin as a small band of adventurer types; but you’re going to need to make sure you’re equipped for everything this world throws at you. Encounters are not just combat and you’ll find yourself wishing you’re axe yielding madman had a little bit of bloody wit about him when trying to negotiate out of a tricky deal and that mighty craftsmen may be able to whip up a spear or two but can he help in a shadowy arcane ritual? Probably not, in fact he may just be a hinderance.
The crafting and research involved in the game is refreshing – choosing to reinforce that silver spear with monster bones will have a different result that an Elven wood spear with leather. Build an incredible amount of weapons and armour to bolster your brave band of heroes. The pace of the game did switch a couple of hundred turns in becoming a little tough to progress with me taking 100 turns crafting the finest arms and armour for my party but a small loss and easily turn into a death spiral.
The encounters are more akin to an old pen and paper RPG with card elements than most RPG games and honestly had me a little confused to start. You’ll have phases to lie down your plans, as will the enemy before the planning is over and 2 phases of action begins. The actual encounters became laborious to me and I often resorted to auto-resolving the majority of them but there’s plenty more mechanics to entice you. The quests and dialogue, despite occasionally re-occurring had multiple paths based on character classes, skills and stats. What may end as helping a demon in the forest once may become a trial across the land for incredible treasures if you’re a little more cunning.
Incredible blend of genres and mechanics in this diverse fantasy epic of Slavic mythology set in a challenging, immersive and borderline apocalyptic world. Level up, gather resources and adventure but make sure you have a diverse team to explore, build and unlock the mysteries that await you.
Overall i give it a 8.5/10